VIDEO: Glowing Tribute as Kibaki Leads Kenyans in Mourning Former ECK Chair Kivuitu
Former Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) chairman Samuel Mutua Kivuitu died of throat cancer on Monday night aged 74.
Mr Kivuitu died at around 10.30pm at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wing of the MP Shah Hospital where he had been taken by family members after his condition deteriorated.
The late Kivuitu’s brother and family spokesman John Musyoka, who addressed journalists at the hospital on Tuesday morning said the former ECK boss had suffered health complications at his Garden Estate residence on Monday afternoon.
“Doctors recommended that an X-ray be done on his upper abdomen to ascertain what the problem was as he complained of immense pain in that area. It is sad he collapsed afterwards,” he said.
Mr Musyoka, who was flanked by the late Kivuitu’s widow Mrs Priscilla Ndululu Kivuitu and their children Musila, Mutua and Kethy said his brother had been in and out of hospital since 2011, having been diagnosed with throat cancer and a mild heart disease.
He said the late Kivuitu had spent most of 2011 in India undergoing specialised cancer treatment at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology.
“He has been to Asian Institute of Gastroenterology for quite some time, spending almost the whole of 2011 there. He was responding well to treatment, but his condition suddenly began to deteriorate early this year,” he said.
The late Kivuitu’s Garden Estate residence was deserted, save for one of his sons and a house boy who identified himself as Mr Nzomo Mbongoyo.
Mr Mbongoyo fought back tears as he recounted the late Kivuitu’s last moments. “I’ve been leaving here with Mzee. I had just finished washing him yesterday when his condition suddenly deteriorated forcing us to rush him to hospital,” he stated.
His son, who declined to be identified interjected at this point, saying the family would issue a statement at the MP Shah Hospital. “We are not granting any interview here. The larger family will issue a statement at MP Shah in an hour,” he stated before leading Mr Mbongoyo away.
His death brings to an end an eventful public life that saw him serve two terms as Parklands MP, between 1969-74 and 1983-88.
In the run-up to the 1992 general election, retired President Daniel Moi appointed the late Kivuitu vice chairman of the defunct ECK then headed by the late Zacchaeus Chesoni.
Ahead of the 1997 General Election, the late Kivuitu succeeded Mr Chesoni as the ECK boss after the latter was appointed Chief Justice.
The late Kivuitu successfully presided over the 1997 and 2002 elections and the 2005 national referendum before his term was extended by president Kibaki in the run-up to the disputed 2007 election.
His career was brought to a sudden end following the disputed 2007 election which was largely blamed on a partisan electoral commission.
Following recommendations of the Kriegler Commission that investigated events surrounding the botched election, the Kivuitu led body was disbanded and a new one, the Interim Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IIEBC) appointed.
The late Kivuitu, like many of the former ECK commissioners had maintained a low profile since then, seldom appearing in public or granting interviews.
Speaking at the hospital, the family announced that Mr Kivuitu will be laid to rest after next Monday’s polls.
“Because of the elections on Monday, we will break away from the family tradition of conducting burials on Saturday to allow Kenyans elect their leaders. This has been informed by the fact that any date before elections will deny others who are busy in the campaign trail a chance to pay their last respects,” said Mr Musyoka.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka sent messages of condolence to the family of the late Kivuitu, separately describing him as a man who served his country diligently.
“In my considered assessment, Mr Kivuitu was a forthright man who often spoke his mind, without fear or favour. Many are those who may have misunderstood him, but he certainly shepherded over our previous elections from 1997; in 2002 and in 2007, arguably, under some of the most difficult times politically; trying in that role, to negotiate the delicate transition from the tyrannies associated with the past that so many Kenyans are familiar with, through to the challenges of the multiparty era,” said Mr Odinga.
Mr Musyoka described the late Kivuitu as an astute politician, keen parliamentarian, and a reknown lawyer and friend.
The late Kivuitu leaves behind eight children.
On Tuesday, Machakos based lawyer Mr Paul Kisongoa mourned a man he described as “honest, astute and a gentleman”.
They started their legal profession almost at the same time and for many years as young men they shared a lot in common.
The late Kivuitu had just arrived back in the country in 1971 to start his legal profession as a magistrate. Kisongoa on his part had finished his stint at the Kenya School of Law that catapulted him into operating as an advocate.
“Kivuitu did not last long as a magistrate and quit to operate as an advocate of the High Court with his office at Uganda House in Nairobi. He opened another branch in Machakos town.
“We were great friends and most of the cases we used to tackle at the time were land and criminal in nature,” he recalls.
With Rtd Judge Kasanga Mulwa, Geofrey Kakuli Anselim Kisevu, Kivuitu and late Musyoka Anna Mr Kisongoa recalls that they were pioneer African lawyers.
- Daily Nation