Former government spokesperson and current Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua has recounted details of his time working with the late former President Mwai Kibaki.
Mutua, who served in Kibaki’s government for ten years from 2002 to 2012, described the late President as a “perfect gentleman” who was eager to combat negative ethnicity in his administration.
According to Dr. Mutua, President Kibaki did not allow the use of local languages in office and would become visibly upset – an apparently rare occurrence – whenever someone violated the policy.
“Kibaki was a perfect gentleman in terms of running the government, he never allowed the use of mother tongue in government offices,” said Mutua on Citizen TV’s Day Break show on Wednesday.
“There was one time a cabinet minister in a meeting switched to Kikuyu and he was so angry that he banged the table and said ‘This is a government office, not your home or village!’ Here we speak in English or Swahili.”
Added Mutua: “Even his kids when they came to see him they spoke to him in English at the office. He demystified the whole tribal thing, there was no Kikuyu spoken in the State House.”
While describing him as an even-tempered individual, Mutua said that was one of the only two times he had seen Mzee Kibaki angry.
The second instance was when an unnamed cabinet minister started a petty quarrel with a colleague in the President’s presence, which appalled him.
“The other time was when he reprimanded one minister who had spoken ill about another minister because he did not have space for childish squabbling,” said the governor.
“He was cool, at times you could see that he was not happy about something but he kept quiet.”
On his one-on-one working relationship with the former President, Dr. Mutua characterized Kibaki as a leader who trusted in government processes and gave his team space to carry out their tasks.
“He gave us a free hand… we shared with him, had State of the Nation meetings but sometimes with issuing statements he didn’t have to clear everything, he trusted the government systems.”
President Kenyatta officially announced Kibaki’s death on Friday, April 22, in a televised address at State House, Nairobi, further directing that the country observe a period of national mourning until sunset of the day of his interment.
The former Head of State’s body has been lying in State at Parliament buildings since Monday for public viewing, and visitors have until today, Wednesday, April 27, to pay their last respects.
Ahead of the State burial which is slated for Saturday, April 30, in Othaya, Nyeri County, Funeral service will be held on Friday at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.