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All the president's men and the dragons they slay for the kingdom

By Daniel Psirmoi | Published Sun, January 7th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 7th 2018 at 08:51 GMT +3
Out of a Cabinet of 19, only six men made it through to round two [Courtesy]

And then they were six.

Six individuals who did enough to earn enough trust from the President and get another chance to serve by his side while the rest of their colleagues fell by the roadside, losing trust and belief from their boss.

Individual performance as well as regional and political representation seemed to have largely influenced the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta to retain six men, the only surviving individuals from his first Cabinet.


Those who survived Friday’s onslaught and will continue serving in the Cabinet include Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Charles Keter (Energy), Najib Balala (Tourism), Henry Rotich (Treasury), Joe Mucheru (ICT) and James Macharia (Transport).

Since his appointment to the Cabinet, the no-nonsense Matiang’i has hit the news headlines as the go-to guy for the powers that be. His stint in Cabinet has seen him tackle task after task in his in-tray with little public complaint.

The performance oriented man has stepped on many toes and has often been looked at as rubbing many the wrong way. He bulldozed the digital migration and is credited with bursting cartels within the education sector. In him, Uhuru might have his very own Bwana Dawa. A man who gets in with a specific brief and executes it to the letter. Matiang’i is fast becoming the administration’s Poster Boy.

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Former Kericho Senator Charles Keter made it back too. Under him, another flagship, albeit chequered Jubilee project, the Last Mile Connectivity, was delivered. The project has seen the poor connected to the national grid for minimum of Sh15,000.

During his tenure, Keter has been a constant feature on the side of President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto as they light up thatched homesteads in rural Kenya.

The beginning of Uhuru years seemed to play Najib Balala out of position. The man, plucked from certain obscurity after losing out on the Mombasa senatorial seat in 2013, was momentarily appointed as Mining Cabinet Secretary. As Mining CS, he oversaw the drafting and passing of the Mining Bill 2014 that sought to ensure equity in sharing of mineral resources.

Eventually, he was moved to the Tourism docket, taking to it like fish to water. Or rather, like a bird to the skies following his skydiving antics. Balala has played to his strengths within the industry. His connections from previous stints in the same ministry have served him well as he at times looks like a one man revolutionary waging war against dwindling tourist numbers.

Youth wave

The Uhuru government has rode the youth wave ever since the idea of a coalition between the President and his deputywas conceived. Key among their pledges to their youthful voters was the growth of, and the adaption of ICT in the day-to-day running of the government. Thus the appointment of the former Google country manager Joe Mucheru to head this docket. Mucheru spearheaded the Digital Literacy Programme and has seamlessly integrated his ministry with others such as Education. 

James Macharia has overseen the delivery of the government’s most expensive, debt-financed project, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). This was one of the few mega government projects that have actually been finished ahead of schedule. If retained in the Transport docket, he will again be charged with overseeing the completion of the second leg of the project.

Rotich, previously worked closely with President Kenyatta when he was the Minister of Finance during retired President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

These six men now have the President’s seal of approval. It will either embolden them or get into their heads.

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