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SIMEON NYACHAE

Simeon Nyachae

Simeon Nyachae is yet another household name in Kenyan politics. He is a very well respected figure and has cut a niche for himself as a excellent fiscal manager. His detractors who might want to debunk his fiscal prowess at the governmental stage will find it hard to argue with his domestic record because he has consistently remained in the list of Kenya's most successful businessmen. Nyachae is also revered as a straight-shooting and independent politician and not one of those ideological sycophants who say or do anything to stay in power. This characteristic however, which seems prevalent among his Kisii community politicians like George Anyona, has sometimes got him in trouble with the powers that be.

Nyachae was born on 6th February 1932 in Kisii District. His father was a paramount Kisii Chief with the colonial administration so its safe to say that they were not exactly poor. After attending local schools in the country, he was employed by the colonial government as a Revenue Clerk. In 1957 he landed a scholarship from the African District Council(ADC) to go for a Diploma in Administration in Torquay College, a branch of Exeter University in the UK.

Nyachae returned to Kenya in 1959 and got a job with the colonial government as an Assistant Administration Officer. He soon left the Civil Service and moved to then East African Breweries Ltd where he worked as a Labour and Welfare Officer. In 1961 he returned to the Civil Service when he was appointed a District Officer(DO). Nyachae was sent back to the UK in 1963 to study Administration at Churchill College in Cambridge. He returned to Kenya the following year and was appointed District Commissioner(DC) for Nyandarua. For the next 14 years, he served as Provincial Commissioner(PC) in various provinces around the country most notably Nairobi, Central, and Rift Valley Provinces.

In 1979, then Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi appointed him Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Development Coordination. In July 1984 President Moi promoted him to the powerful position of Chief Secretary, Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet. It was Nyachae in fact during his tenure as Head of the Civil Service who came up with the famous District Focus for Rural Development, or District Focus as it was simply called in the 80's. This development strategy was geared towards developing and creating jobs in the rural areas to curb the spread of rural-urban migration. Incentives were given to Kenyans living in urban areas to relocate to rural areas. He retired from Civil Service in 1987.

His political debut came in 1988 during the country's General Elections. Nyachae had hoped to run for a parliamentary seat but unfortunately fell out of favour with the Kenya African National Union(KANU) leadership, then the sole political party in the country. As a result he was barred from the elections. He resurfaced in 1991 with the re-introduction of Multi-Party politics in Kenya. To the surprise of many, especially opposition party politicians who had been waiting for him with open arms, Nyachae rejoined the ruling party KANU and contested the Nyaribari Chache parliamentary seat in the 1992 General Elections. Even with the prevailing opposition fever in Nyanza Province, he still managed to capture the parliamentary seat on a KANU ticket, proving that he was a formidable political opponent and not just a party slave as was the case with many other opposition politicians during that Multi-Party politics euphoria. With his parliamentary victory, President Moi appointed him the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Supplies and Marketing. In 1997 he was transferred to the Ministry of Water Development, Regional, Arid and Semi Arid Development. Nyachae recaptured his parliamentary seat in the 1997 General Elections and was appointed Finance Minister.

His Finance Ministry job however soon came to an end when in his trademark bold and straight-shooting style he publicly declared the government bankrupt. This annoyed a lot of people in the KANU leadership and led to his transfer to the Ministry of Industry in early 1999, an obvious demotion. Nyachae hit back by declining the transfer and opting instead to resign from government. He continued his onslaught against the government, especially as regards to corruption. He later joined FORD-People, an opposition political party and and became its Presidential candidate during the 2002 General Elections. Nyachae's bid for the Presidency was unsuccessful eventhough he still remains among a handful of Kenyans with a clear shot at the Presidency. Mwai Kibaki came out victorious in the 2002 General Elections, unseating long-time President Daniel arap Moi.

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