The MP who dines like a king, but his family live like paupers
- Justus Murunga, the MP for Matungu Constituency in Kakamega County has never set foot in his Utawala house since he was sworn in, choosing instead to sleep in a lodging
- One of his daughter had a problem joining Form Two over lack of fees
- “At home in the village, he is Mr Money Bags, but his family sometimes lacks food in Nairobi” a source stated
A first-time Member of Parliament known to change Land Cruisers faster than his family changes shoes, has been accused of neglecting and subjecting his family to a life of penury and squalor.
Justus Murunga, the 58-year-old MP for Matungu Constituency in Kakamega County, cuts the image of a cross between a kind uncle and a successful village businessman with a deep pot belly laugh.
But unknown to his constituents, he has not slept in his matrimonial home in Nairobi since becoming a mheshimiwa after the 2017 General Election, and rarely spends time with his wife of three decades and their five children.
Multiple sources who spoke to The Nairobian indicated that most times, Murunga’s expensive car is seen parked outside cheap lodgings in Nairobi’s Utawala area along the Eastern Bypass.
Before relocating to their unfinished house in Utawala, his family lived in a mabati house in Nairobi’s Umoja estate for four years till 2005. The family knew he had another woman with whom he lived, also in Umoja, but have not heard about her since 2003.
“Ever since he was sworn in, he has never set foot in his Utawala house. He lives in Utawala, but sleeps in a lodging,” a relative in the know who spoke on behalf of the family told The Nairobian.
We were directed to two popular lodgings where the politician’s car is usually parked overnight. One lodging charges Sh700 a room per night, the other charges Sh1,000. His family learns more about his whereabouts from boda boda operators in Utawala.
Murunga, in whose constituency the bones of the fabled King of Wanga Nabongo Mumia rest, however, hardly drinks.
“His children sometimes bump into him at the shopping centre. When they go to the shops, they find his brand new Land Cruiser parked outside a bar. Naturally, a child who has not seen his father for months will walk in and say hallo. The child will be shooed away with Sh500,” says another relative, adding that Murunga’s children endure the shame of buying sugar and other necessities in kadogo sachets at a shopping centre where their father is known to be a loaded MP.
The family does not live like their father is a mheshimwa. This January, one of his daughters had issues joining Form Two at a girls’ school in Murang’a County over school fee. Murunga asked his CDF office to send a bursary form to his daughter, a family insider narrated. The bursary is yet to be approved even as schools reopen.
Murunga’s first-born daughter never went beyond secondary school, forcing her maternal relatives to enrol her for a tailoring course. His only son went to driving school and is now a gym instructor in Lang’ata estate in Nairobi.
The third-born stayed at home for three years after secondary school, before her mother, who works for a city-based utility company, struggled to have her study for an airline cabin crew course.
“As a family, we are also very worried about his third-born daughter. She has a kidney ailment that needs dialysis from time to time. The last time the girl was in hospital, the bill was Sh18,000, but the MP only sent Sh1,500,” laments a concerned member of the politician’s extended family, who like others, feared giving out his name.
Asked whether his family has ever confronted him, The Nairobian was told that Murunga is the eldest and the only moneyed sibling in his family and he thus can hardly listen to his younger brothers and sisters, to whom he dishes out stipends.
A disappointed uncle explained that Murunga leads a double life. While he can hardly muster a crowd at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, Murunga, he says, is a grassroots politician who when let loose in mother tongue at a baraza in the village, has his audience hanging on to his every word like their lives depended on it.
“At home in the village, he is Mr Money Bags, but his family sometimes lacks food in Nairobi,” says the uncle.
The Nairobian wondered whether his family ever tried confronting him with their problems but we learnt that they fear and only beg him for sustenance money, says a relative, adding that Murunga doesn’t take kindly to being asked for cash by his family, and that he once told his daughters that: “All of you are adult women and can go get married and stop disturbing me.”
Murunga, a Form Six leaver dabbled in real estate besides selling cars from his yard in Kisumu. Villagers also know him as a land ‘broker’ who was adept at sourcing buyers and sorting out title deeds.
The father of five lived with his family in a mabati house in Umoja till in 2005 when they moved to his unfinished structure in Utawala. When not being ravaged by the winds, the home he has not visited since he became a mheshimiwa floods when it rains.
“The house is built at the end of a slope, so when it rains, storm water collects and forms a dam around his compound. So his family has to wade in, knee deep to leave or enter the house,” says a neighbour of the huge three-bedroom unfinished house.
One has to go through a rusty green gate, which is comical considering the square compound only has a wall on the front side for security. One can access the house from any of the three unfenced sides.
Inside, the ceiling hasn’t been fitted yet, giving visitors an ungainly sight of the cavernous mabati roof which turns the house into an oven when the sun is up.
“What has really hurt the children is that their father is usually at alcohol joints in Utawala. Even though he doesn’t drink, he buys people drinks, while at home, sometimes his family has nothing to eat,” says another of Murunga’s relatives.
Contacted by The Nairobian, Murunga said he was coming to KTN for an interview and would answer all questions regarding his family face to face.
But he but did not pick subsequent calls to both his cell phone numbers by the time of going to press.
The MP who dines like a king, but his family live like paupers