At his palatial home in Vuta area on the outskirts of Machakos town, business tycoon Peter Muthoka relaxes on the well-manicured lawns reflecting on his corporate success.
With the corona pandemic, the tycoon who runs Acceler Global Logistics, one of the largest transport and logistics firm in East Africa, literally works from his home nowadays where he coordinates his vast business empire which has offices in all the East African capitals as well as Europe and China.
Despite holding no elective post, Mr Muthoka’s home is the busiest man in the region, and has of late become the new center of power in Ukambani where major political decisions, with far reaching ramifications have made.
The luxurious home dotted with beautiful palm trees has played host to most top politicians in the country both in government and the opposition including President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, Nasa leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.
In one of his comfy boardrooms, photos of him with both President Kenyatta and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki hang on the walls, as a testimony of his highly placed political connections.
The man who allegedly turned down an offer to serve in the cabinet due to the conflict of interest his appointment would present to his business empire, is actually more influential in government than most cabinet secretaries.
Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and MPs queue in his office at JKIA to see him, and some are turned away if they happen to drive in unannounced.
Mr Muthoka who in the 2017 election campaigns was bankrolling Jubilee parliamentary and civic candidates in Ukambani to defeat Wiper MPs has metamorphosed into the main voice in Kalonzo’s political courtyard.
His role in Jubilee party campaigns is well known as he’s credited with snatching three parliamentary seats from Wiper’s Ukambani stronghold through grassroots mobilization, but his new prominent effort in the region’s politics is the talk of town.
In less than three years, he has emerged as not only a financier of Ukambani politics but also a highly influential behind the scenes power broker, whose influence cannot be underestimated.
For instance, when the president visited Ukambani to launch the Sh18 billion Kitui – Kibwezi road project in 2017, he was the only person allowed to speak for the region, signaling the high regard Jubilee has for the billionaire.
Through his quiet but effective influence and his closeness to President Kenyatta, Ukambani has benefitted from mega government projects including the multibillion Thwake dam and several road projects, despite voting for Opposition.
When he recently convened a meeting of Kamba leaders at Stoni Athi, elected leaders from all political persuasions including political rivals Mr Musyoka and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu attended and shared platform.
What’s more confounding is how the tycoon manages to command respect from Kamba leaders but his deep pockets and his willingness to contribute generously to their political endeavors has changed the region’s political dynamics.
Recently, this palatial home in Machakos hosted a meeting of Jubilee and Wiper party leaders where a cooperation deal was hammered, as the tycoon flexes his financial muscle to determine which side Ukambani vote bloc will throw its weight in the 2022 presidential succession.
According to him, the meeting was the last in a series held elsewhere and which he all chaired had the blessings of both the president and the Wiper leader. He threw a lavish bash where seven goats were slaughtered to celebrate the deal.
Among the notable attendees National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, former Jubilee Vice chairman David Murathe and former Solicitor General Njee Muturi who represented President Kenyatta in the negotiations.
On the other hand, Mr Musyoka had picked Senators Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni), Enoch Wambua (Kitui) and Boniface Kabaka (Machakos).
Mr Muthoka who never hesitates to brag about his wealth was heavily involved in President Kenyatta election campaigns in 2013 and 2017, securing three parliamentary seats and tens of county assembly seats for Jubilee party.
In the cooperation deal between Jubilee and Wiper, the tycoon was not only the main political architect but he also played host and chaired the meetings between the two parties.
At some point during the talks, Mr Murathe, the abrasive Jubilee party rubble rouser had to apologise to the billionaire businessman when he casually answered his phone in the middle of one of the meetings.
Even though he’s been widely considered as President Kenyatta’s point man in Ukambani, within Wiper party he now commands some significant sway and is seen as the secret hand behind most party decisions made by the party.
Mr Muthoka opened up on his desire to influence the direction of the Kamba politics by ensuring the community and the region benefits from the current regime even though they voted overwhelmingly for the Opposition Nasa.