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Eliud Ngala blazed the trail for Kitui Central luminaries

The Kitui Central seat was for long a preserve of heavyweights whose capacity for leadership was recognized by presidents. Of the seven MPs the constituency has had, five were appointed full cabinet ministers, among them Ngilu, who served under two presidents. By Free Press Correspondent

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 10 Jun 2016 09:13 EAT

Map of Kitui Central (Photo: www.kituicentralcdf.co.ke)

The late Eliud Ngala, who served as the first MP for Kitui Central between 1963-74, set the trend for future leaders of the constituency who have shone not only in Ukambani but nationally. The Kitui Central seat was for long a preserve of heavyweights whose capacity for leadership was recognized by presidents.

Of the seven MPs who have represented Kitui Central since independence, five were appointed full cabinet ministers and one an assistant minister. One of the ministers, Charity Ngilu, is the only woman to have served in the cabinet of two presidents.

Ngala served as minister for labor and social services in the pioneer Jomo Kenyatta government in 1963. He represented the constituency until 1974, when he lost to Daniel Mutinda who made history by becoming the youngest MP in post-colonial Kenya. He was 31. A US-trained lawyer, Mutinda was subsequently appointed minister for Information and Broadcasting.

He retained the seat in 1979 general elections but lost to Titus Mbathi, who had been a permanent secretary in the Kenyatta and Moi governments, in a consequent election petition case. Mbathi was also appointed full minister. He worked closely and became great friends with Mwai Kibaki when the former president served as minister for finance in the Kenyatta and Moi governments.

Aside from public service, Mbathi has held important corporate appointments as Director for various firms including the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya Power, Kenya Ports Authority and Transami, among many others. He is currently serving as the Chairman of Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN), Platinum Credit Limited and is also the Director of Athi River Mining.

Mbathi's tenure was short-lived. He lost the seat in 1983 to John Mutinda, a brother to Mbathi's predecessor Daniel Mutinda. John became an assistant minister. He also served just one term, losing to George Ndotto in 1988 general elections. Ndotto served as the Minister for Research, Science and Technology and nominated MP in the first multiparty parliament between 1992-97. He is currently Speaker at Kitui County Assembly.

In the multiparty elections of 1992, Charity Ngilu became the first woman to win the seat, and she won many more re-elections than all her predecessors (serving 20 years in total). Ngilu also became the first woman to run for the presidency in Kenya in 1997 general elections. 

In 2002, Ngilu was part of the 'NARC Summit' - the team of top opposition leaders who united to depose Kanu from power. She subsequently served as a minister in the Kibaki government (2003-07) and also in the grand coalition cabinet (2008-2013). After the 2013 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed her into the technocratic cabinet, making her the first woman in Kenya to have served in cabinet under two different presidents.

The current MP for Kitui Central is Mukali Muli, who succeeded Ngilu in 2013.

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