‘Hasten naming of Cabinet to get country moving again’

23Jan 2018
The Guardian
‘Hasten naming of Cabinet to get country moving again’

PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta has taken 54 days—40 more than in his first term in 2013—to name his full Cabinet, a delay that threatens key government services.

This is coupled with the fact that in naming his nine-man partial Cabinet on January 5, President Kenyatta kept in limbo 13 of their colleagues, who are now unsure whether or not they will keep their jobs.

For the 13, it is hope against hope that, in the end, they will be retained, and, on the other hand, a reluctant preparation to exit the scene, a scenario that has affected their work in the past 17 days.

“They are very careful when it comes to committing the government in some expenditures. They are afraid to append their signatures on contracts they are not sure about because they do not know their fate,” a source at one of the government departments said yesterday.

The fact that the Principal Secretaries, the accounting officers in the ministries, are also not sure about their fate has also heightened this uncertainty especially after reports emerged that a huge chunk of them may not survive the chop as the President starts reorganising his government for his final term in office.

In 2013, President Kenyatta named his Cabinet on his 14th day in office.

Though he is not bound by any law to name the Cabinet within any scheduled time, his move on January 5 to retain only six of the 19—without saying what happens to the rest—has thrown the top government officials into panic and uncertainty.

Despite State House asking the 13 CSs to report to their offices as usual, most of them have opted to stay away for fear of a possible chop.

Others, to the detriment of service delivery, have opted to work behind the scenes, fronting delegations to President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to be retained in the Cabinet.

 

When he travelled to South Africa, Kanu secretary general Nick Salat— said to be eyeing a seat in the Cabinet—was among leaders at the airport to see him off.

On January 5, President Kenyatta was categorical that he had only retained six CSs, suggesting that he could have fired the remaining 13.

National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale had last week hinted that the Head of State would name the Cabinet this week.

“The President will name the full Cabinet next week (this week) upon which all names will be presented to Parliament for vetting,” Duale had told the press.

 

 

Last month, the president  shocked and surprised his handlers and allies alike when he unveiled nine nominees to the Cabinet and sacked 13 others.

The President dropped all the women in his earlier Cabinet, naming only men in his first nine appointments.

Unlike in 2013, Deputy President William Ruto was not at his side when the President made the shocking announcement that he would only retain only six of his 18 CSs.

 

Close allies from Parliament and the presidency said they had been outwitted by the head of state who had earlier indicated that he would be naming his Cabinet “in the coming weeks”.

Many were left with mouths agape at the large number of casualties with some regions protesting after their sons and daughters were dropped.

 

Some of the leaders interviewed said the President’s move was “a massive bloodbath”.

All the five women CSs; Raychelle Omamo, Sicily Kariuki, Phyllis Kandie, Amina Mohamed and Judi Wakhungu were dropped. One of Mohamed’s contribution during Kenyatta’s first term in office was to rally the international community against the International Criminal Court, where both Kenyatta and Ruto were facing charges of crimes against humanity.

 

However, it is the inclusion of the Director of Public Prosecution, Keriako Tobiko, the head of a constitutional organ, that got tongues wagging on what Kenyatta’s intentions could be and whether he was reaching out to the Maasai community following the demise of Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery, just weeks to the General Election last August.

However, the post of CS for the Interior and Co-ordination of the National Government was given to Dr Fred Matiang’i, who was appointed acting Education CS.

“I have today accepted the resignation of Keriako Tobiko as Director of Public Prosecution under Article 158 (ix) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” the President said before announcing that Tobiko would be in his Cabinet.

The nomination of former Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani also meant that the fate of Sports minister Hassan Wario was sealed because the two hail from the same region.

A former Jubilee candidate for Turkana gubernatorial race, John Munyes, was also nominated. He and the other nominees will be waiting for vetting by Parliament before they can be formally appointed.

 

His appointment is in keeping with the ruling party’s plans to win all the pastoralist communities to its side after a lackluster performance in Turkana in the last elections.