Former Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae dies at 88

Simeon Nyachae. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Former Cabinet minister and ex-Nyaribari Chache MP, Simeon Nyachae, has died at the age of 88. 

The businessman, politician, former chief secretary and ex-head of civil service died at the Nairobi Hospital on Monday, February 1 where he had been undergoing treatment, the family said.

In his condolence message, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Nyachae's successful transition from public service to the world of business and politics was a demonstration that focus and hard work pays.

"Throughout his many years of service to the nation, right from his time in the provincial administration through to his transition into business and politics, Mzee Nyachae exhibited exemplary zeal to succeed and as he exits from this world, he leaves behind a rich legacy of success," President Kenyatta eulogised.

Born on February 6, 1932 in Nyosia village, Nyaribari in Kisii, to colonial-era chief Musa Nyandusi, Nyachae was trained in the UK as a public administrator.

From a district officer in Kangundo, Machakos, he rose through the ranks to be appointed district commissioner at the time of Kenya’s independence in 1963 before serving as a provincial commissioner between 1965 and 1979.

Former Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae. FILE PHOTO | NMG

He would later serve as a chief secretary and Head of Civil Service under late president Daniel arap Moi.

The former minister leaves behind a vast business empire with interests in manufacturing, transport, real estate, banking and large-scale farming.

The president, whose family, Nyachae, and the late Central Bank governor Philip Ndegwa are among wealthy owners of the third-largest bank by assets, NCBA, said the former Nyaribari Chache MP was jolly, accessible and dependable.

"I recall with nostalgia my many interactions with Mzee Nyachae over the years. As an elder and friend, Mzee Nyachae always had a word of wisdom and encouragement for me. Many will remember and miss Mzee Nyachae's warm personality and especially his hearty and infectious laughter," he said.

In 1992, Nyachae left the civil service to join politics and was elected as the Nyaribari Chache member of Parliament, a seat he retained in successive elections until his defeat in 2007. 

During his tenure as an MP,  president Moi appointed him minister of Agriculture and later Finance. 

After falling out with Moi in 1999, he was moved to the less powerful ministry of Trade.

Simeon Nyachae at a past function. FILE PHOTO | NMG

He soon quit the ruling party Kanu and resigned from government after viewing his removal from the Finance ministry as a demotion. 

He would join the opposition Ford Kenya party, through which he unsuccessfully contested for presidency in 2002 against opposition-backed Mwai Kibaki.

In 2004, president Kibaki appointed him as minister for Energy and later Roads.

Former vice-president Moody Awori (left) during the launch of Simeon Nyachae's autobiography. FILE PHOTO | NMG

He retired from active politics in 2007. 

He had five wives and 20 children. His son Charles Nyachae is the former chairman of the Committee of Implementation of the Constitution, who is currently a judge at the East African Court of Justice.

His first wife Esther died in August 2016.

His body is currently at the Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi. 

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