By Mwaniki Munuhe
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta still has President Kibaki’s ear in what effectively casts doubts on allegations that the DPM may have fallen out with the President over United Democratic Movement (UDF) presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi.
Whereas it would have been expected allies of Mudavadi who hitherto is being supported by powerful forces close to the Head of State would have been given a priority in Thursday’s Cabinet appointments, it was Uhuru who appeared to have had the last laugh.
Similarly, Prime Minister Raila Odinga elevated personalities who are heavily anti Mudavadi especially in the Western region ostensibly to check UDF.
It is this action by the President and the PM that may effectively introduce a new challenge into Mudavadi’s bid for presidency.
Kibaki appointed Uhuru’s The National Alliance (TNA) key supporter Katoo Ole Metito to the powerful Internal Security docket.
But Mr Metito attended UDF meeting at KICC where Mudavadi announced his departure from ODM to the party on whose ticket he intends to ernal Security is a key docket because the minister has access to the intelligence information including political intelligence from the National Security Intelligence Service.
Metito has been on Uhuru’s campaign trail for TNA candidates in the just concluded by-elections.
It was widely expected that the position of Internal Security Minister previously held by the late George Saitoti would go to Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchellah who is also PNU chairman, which was the late minister’s vehicle for his presidential bid.
But sources say Mr Konchellah’s chances, were thwarted by his consistent effort in fighting TNA and declaration that PNU had not endorsed the DPM’s candidature.
It is worth noting that the President’s nephew and Assistant minister Ndiritu Muriithi despite being Mudavadi’s right hand man was not elevated nor was any PNU MP or minister associated with Mudavadi promoted.
“The appointment of Cabinet ministers is the prerogative of the President in consultation with the PM. But the appointment of Metito to Internal Security ministry is indicative of political influence. Metito played a key role for TNA in the just ended by-elections in Kajiado North. His appointment looks like a reward for the job he did for TNA in Kajiado North. Similarly, the PM’s appointments is a show of political intent to consolidate the Western vote,” said Mt Kenya Parliamentary Group chairman and Mathira MP Ephraim Maina.
A source in the Prime Minister’s office told The Standard On Sunday that the appointment of Mr John Mbadi and Mr Ababu Namwamba was a reward to the ODM reloaded team.
However, Mr Namwamba’s appointment coupled with the elevation of Dr Paul Otuoma from the Sports Ministry to the powerful Ministry of Local Government, said the source, was more strategic because it was meant to take care of the youth aspect and at the same time consolidate the Western vote which UDF presidential flag bearer is hoping to capture.
“Namwamba is attractive to the youth across the country. He is eloquent and can challenge Mudavadi in Western Kenya. Same would be said of Otuoma. The PM was rewarding the reloaded team and there will be more rewards coming for them,” said the source.
It is worth noting that Raila went against wide expectation that he would sack Assistant ministers from Western region who have shifted loyalty from ODM to Mudavadi’s UDF.
But Cabinet minister Soita Shitanda speaking to The Standard On Sunday on phone said the appointments by the PM seem to have isolated a certain segment of Western Province.
“In terms of political investments, ODM seems to have assumed the support of Bungoma and Vihiga, they are investing in Busia. It looks like the PM has lost confidence in Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega. However, I support the appointment of Katoo Ole Metito. He is a sober man and I have no doubt he can manage the docket,” he said.
The President in consultation with the PM on Thursday announced Metito as the Internal Security Minister, Namwamba was appointed to the Sports ministry, and Otuoma was moved from Sports to the Ministry of Local Government.
Assistant minister Alfred Khangati was transferred from the Office of the Prime Minister to Internal Security while Mbadi replaced Mr Khangati. James Gesami was reinstated to the Public Health ministry as an Assistant minister.