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David Mwiraria, the buddy who shared Kibaki’s quirks

Former minister for finance David Mwiraria

A political ally of former President Mwai Kibaki, with whom close associates say shared many similarities, succumbed to a long illness Thursday at the Karen Hospital in Nairobi.

Daudi Mwiraria, a former Treasury technocrat, Democratic Party MP, and later Finance minister, born on September 3, 1938, succumbed to acute respiratory infection. He has been suffering from cancer of the bone.

Of all the confidants that former president Kibaki rolled over with from the opposition to government in 2002, none was as close and shared as many mannerisms as Mwiraria.

Known in his Imenti North constituency, which he had represented from the 1992 multiparty elections on Kibaki’s DP ticket, as ‘kangumu’ (the mean one), the former minister was known for his aversion to handouts, just like former president Kibaki.

Mwiraria was Finance minister from January 2003 to February 2006 in Kibaki’s regime. At the Treasury, the management of which he had rehearsed for as shadow Finance minister, he left a record of fiscal discipline and enabled the Central Bank of Kenya to re-establish its say in managing the local banking sector, which allowed the private sector to thrive.

But two scandals blotted the illustrious career of the Makerere-trained economist. There was his alleged involvement in the Wagalla massacre of 1984 and the Anglo Leasing scam that was the first serious financial blot on the Kibaki government.

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Stay out

Following allegations that he had been involved in the Anglo Leasing scandal, Mwiraria chose to resign as Finance minister on February 1, 2006.

He quit after a series of explosive recordings that former Presidential Adviser on Graft John Githongo had made implicating the former minister in the scam.

Mwiraria would stay out of the Cabinet until July 24, 2007, when he returned to head the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry.

“He believed in individuals working hard for themselves and not looking for handouts from leaders,” said DP National Chairman Essau Kioni, who remembers Mwiraria as one of the steadfast pillars in establishing the party in 1992.

Mwiraria was known for prudent management of personal resources and the signature of his businesses, according to those who know him well in Meru town, was that he had to have a trusted hand inside his business ventures.

Mwiraria was in the group of Kibaki’s trusted confidants who in 1991 convinced the ever cautious former vice-president to march out of Kanu and launch DP. “When we set out to establish DP, Mwiraria was very clear that we were setting up a party for the future,” said Kioni, who is also a founder member.

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