Mt Kenya billionaires who bankroll campaigns, elections

Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga (left) Chris Kirubi and Titus Ibui.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Equity Bank chief executive, Dr James Mwangi, billionaire Chris Kirubi and former career administrator, Joseph Kaguthi, also have considerable influence.
  • During elections held at Safari Park Hotel in July, Mr Kibe – a financial and governance expert – replaced second liberation hero Charles Rubia, who died last December.

An exclusive club of billionaires in Mt Kenya has played leading roles in presidential campaigns. Their financial muscles were instrumental in delivering the big prize to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki.  

One such powerful lobby that has influenced the region’s political direction is the Council of Eminent Persons.

Chaired by the moneyed Joe Kibe, it draws a majority of its membership from wealthy businessmen in Murang’a County.

During elections held at Safari Park Hotel in July, Mr Kibe – a financial and governance expert – replaced second liberation hero Charles Rubia, who died last December. Dr Nyamu Njoka is the council’s secretary while former Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga is the coordinator.

Social cohesion

Other members are Royal Media Services chairman Samuel Macharia, Bishop Gideon Githiga, Maina Wanjigi, Solomon Karanja, Muthoni Likimani,  Nicholas Ng’ang’a and Prof Lucy Irungu. The council was formed in 2015 and registered as a company limited by guarantee in 2018.

 It seeks to be the platform that builds broad political consensus, peace, harmony and social cohesion in the country.

In 2016, the group raised funds for President Kenyatta’s campaigns.

In the last elections, another lobby – Friends of Jubilee Foundation – brought together wealthy individuals to root for President Kenyatta. They included Mr Kibe, Mr Munga, Mr Peter Muthoka, Mr Pius Ngugi, Mr Titus Ibui and Mr Paul Ndung’u. Events management guru Maina Wandere of Wonderjoy Party World, Stanley Kinyanjui of Magnet Ventures and Mombasa-based businessman Sam Kairu.

Influence

Equity Bank chief executive, Dr James Mwangi, billionaire Chris Kirubi and former career administrator, Joseph Kaguthi, also have considerable influence.

The Four Star Emory Hotel in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa has become a favourite retreat centre for these tycoons’ exclusive meetings. It is owned by Lizzie Wanyoike of the Nairobi Institute of Business and Technological Studies. 

“In just one sitting, these individuals have the ability to change Kenya’s fortunes if only they were engaged by mindsets genuine to reforming the country’s economy,” says Prof Ngugi Njoroge, a political analyst.

There are also wealthy politicians who pull the strings behind the scenes, including Peter Kenneth, former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, ex-Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru, Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and Jubilee chairman David Murathe.