Corporate bigwigs trade C-suite for rough and tumble of politics terrain

Businessmen, technocrats  and ex-administrators have entered race for seats in the August 2017 General Election. FILE photo | nmg
Businessmen, technocrats and ex-administrators have entered race for seats in the August 2017 General Election. FILE photo | nmg 

Businessmen, technocrats and former administrators have thrown their hats into the August 2017 ring seeking to be governors, lawmakers and grassroots civic leaders.

They have traded their cosy c-suite offices for the muddy and murky political terrain.

Most of these professionals are banking on their deep pockets and real-life experiences in management and entrepreneurship to win the seats they are gunning for.

Among them is billionaire businessman Bundotich Kiprop who wants to be Uasin Gishu governor. Mr Kiprop in November 2013 sold his milk empire, Buzeki Dairy, to Brookside Dairies in a deal estimated at Sh1.1 billion.

The aspirant has since adopted the name “Buzeki”, the name of his conglomerate which is now in the logistics business where the firm owns a fleet of trucks.


Suleiman Shahbal, founding chairman and shareholder at Gulf African Bank, is eying the Mombasa governor post. Mr Shahbal left the board of the sharia-compliant lender in 2012.

Ex-Wall Street investment banker Mwende Mwinzi is seeking Mwingi West MP’S post. She is the founder of Twana Twitu, a charity firm which supports destitute children and HIV/AIDS orphans.

Also in the list is Patrick Wainaina, founder and chief executive of Jungle Nuts, a macadamia nuts processor in Thika. Mr Wainaina, who has also adopted the name “Jungle,” want to be Thika Town MP in the forthcoming polls.

Management experts however warn that private sector leaders may find public administration a different ball game given the different approaches used in public service.

“There’s going to be a culture shock. In private sector things move faster due to clarity of roles. In government, you’re not driven by profits and you need a lot of consultation with stakeholders,” said David Muturi, former executive director at Kenya Institute of Management.

“But it’s good for the country. They should be encouraged and given the support to breath freshness in our politics,” Dr Muturi told Business Daily.

Ndindi Nyoro, a 31-year-old entrepreneur, has sought to represent the people of Kiharu constituency as their MP. He is the owner of Investax Capital, a stock broking agent of Standard Bank-owned SBG Securities.

Millicent Omanga, 34, last year resigned from KenGen’s #ticker:KEGN board to vie for Nairobi county woman representative in the upcoming polls.

Another investor to watch in the August General Election is Granton Samboja, the founder of Milele FM and who currently serves as chairman of Coast Water Services Board. He is in the race for Taita-Taveta governor.

The journalist later sold his radio station to Mediamax, owner of K24 TV, Kameme FM, People Daily newspaper, Mayian FM, Meru FM and Pilipili FM.

Mr Samboja is now the owner of Taita vernacular radio station Anguo FM.

In the presidential race, there is lawyer Ekuru Aukot, who was director of the committee of experts that midwifed Kenya’s new constitution in 2010.

Dr Aukot holds a doctorate and Masters in law in International Refugee Law, and Law in Development at University of Warwick, UK.

Former National Social Security Fund chief executive Richard Langat is in the race to be Kericho governor. There is also a growing number of journalists getting into elective politics.

Gathoni Wamuchomba, a former radio presenter at Inooro, has set her eyes on the Kiambu county women representative seat.

Ms Wamuchomba is the frontrunner for the seat with a score of 29 per cent ahead of incumbent Anne Nyokabi Muhoho who polled 24 per cent according to a poll carried out by Tifa Research in February 2017.

Other then members of the Fourth Estate seeking to be on the ballot are former Standard digital editor David Ohito (Ugenya MP), former KTN investigative reporter Mohammed Ali (Nyali MP), an ex-Standard editor Enoch Wambua — Kitui Senate.

Former Citizen TV breakfast show host David Makali and his ex-colleague Boniface Nyongesa will both be battling for the Bungoma Senatorial seat.

Former ICC indictee and Kass FM radio presenter Joshua arap Sang has thrown his hat into the ring for the Trans Nzoia gubernatorial seat.

Former Judiciary registrar Gladys Boss Shollei is eying to be Uasin Gishu county women representative.

Cosmas Kanyadudi, a former senior executive at Technical University of Kenya, is seeking the Homa Bay governor’s post.

Activists have also decided to take the battle to the next level. Boniface Mwangi is gunning for Starehe MP. Eddy Gicheru Oketch, founder of Ongoza, a forum to equip youth with entrepreneurial skills, wants to be Migori senator.

There is also a group of former cabinet secretaries who have plunged into politics and are eying governor posts. They are Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado).

Kibaki-era Transport PS Cyrus Njiru has his eyes set on Embu governor position.

Rose Kositany, former chief finance officer Bomet County, is going for Bomet East MP.

Former Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo is going for Elgeyo Marakwet senate seat, while former Teachers Service Commission boss Gabriel Lengoiboni wants to be Samburu governor.

Other technocrats will be making a return into elective politics, having taken part in the last polls or worked as party strategists and financiers.

Those involved in the gubernatorial race are former CBK deputy governor Jacinta Mwatela (Taita Taveta), agricultural consultant James Nyoro (Kiambu), Vision 2030 director Wahome Gakuru (Nyeri), and former ICT PS Joseph Tiampati (Narok).

Dan Wamahiu, chairman at National Oil, and a former TNA insider, is going for the Nyeri senatorial race.

Former Sasini chief executive Moses Changwony will be making his second bid for governor, Elgeiyo Marakwet County.

Tole Mwakidedi, an investment consultant, will be making another bid for the Taita Taveta senate seat.