File | NATION When Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka arrived at this scene of Kitili Mwendwa’s accident, he immediately suspected foul play.
By David Okwembah
Posted Sunday, September 12 2010 at 22:00
Before Mzee’s death in 1978, Kitili had been on what friends describe as a ‘house arrest order’ by the Kenyatta regime
Before the death of Kitili Maluki Mwendwa, the family of Senior Chief Mwendwa Kitavi seemed fairly united.
It was also the most progressive in Kitui District. Mr Ngala Mwendwa, one of chief Kitavi’s sons, had been a freedom fighter who had gone to Lancaster to negotiate Kenya’s independence.
Ngala also stood by his brother when Parliament attempted to pass a censure motion moved by Cabinet colleague Paul Ngei implicating Kitili in the 1971 coup attempt.
But Kitili’s death on September 27, 1985 shattered this unity that culminated in two members of the same family running for the Kitui West parliamentary seat in 1992.
Kitili died just a year after he had been elected the Kitui West MP in a by-election after the court nullified the election of Parmenas Munyasia and banned him for five years after he was found guilty of bribery.
Kitili had given public office a wide berth after his resignation as Chief Justice in 1971 when he was implicated in a coup attempt against Jomo Kenyatta.
His wife, Winfred Nyiva won the Kitui West parliamentary seat in the 1974 General Election.
But five years later, she lost it to Mr Munyasia.
With President Jomo Kenyatta’s death in August 1978, Kitili who had been on what many of his friends describe as a “house arrest order” by the Kenyatta regime, bounced back into public life.
In the snap elections called in 1983 after the traitor issue linked to the then Constitutional Affairs minister Charles Njonjo, Kitili plunged into campaigns.
He lost to Mr Munyasia by just 20 votes and this gave him the impetus to petition the election through a voter, Johnson Nzuki Ndundu.
The court nullified Munyasia’s election and with him out of the race because of he ban, Kitili was elected with little competition.
On his death, his elder brother, Kyale Mwendwa was picked to inherit the seat.
According to the former Chief Justice’s son, Maluki, his father had asked Nyiva to offer herself as a candidate in case anything happened to him before his term ended.
“Relations among the family members were at their lowest after my father’s death because of what happened,” Maluki said in reference to Kyale’s election.
Kyale, who had been the director of education, before plunging into politics also agrees that relations were strained by Kitili’s death.
He said at the time of the crash, his brother’s family was in Europe where the children, Kavinya and Maluki were in school while Nyiva was visiting them.
“I was called after the accident and I took charge before his wife and children arrived,” Kyale said.
He says that his attempts to go to Thika after news of Kitili’s death failed as he was informed that the body was already in Nairobi.