Is Uhuru’s new team good enough to secure his desired legacy?

During the swearing-in of the nine new Cabinet secretaries, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is serving his second and final term, sounded tough as he warned ministers to deliver or ship out. He innovated in creating the position of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), which in reality is Cabinet Assistant Secretary or assistant minister. The innovation, long overdue given the demands in some ministries, serves delivery and political purposes.

Those to deliver are in two interlinked categories, international and domestic. Uhuru’s desire to promote his international and Pan African vision is clear in the appointments. The foreign affairs and trade, the flagship in world affairs, is under a certified intellectual, Monica Juma, who can mount strong arguments for Kenya with anyone anywhere. Her performance benchmark would be Munyua Waiyaki, if she can pass past Robert Ouko.

Macharia Kamau, the calculating doer of diplomacy, is to streamline the ministry that seems “strange”, at times posting incompatible officers to undermine Kenya’s position rather than defend it. Politically savvy Ababu Namwamba will essentially help Juma in articulating positions before political players. The supporting ministries include first East Africa led pushy former Meru Governor Peter Munya who previously was assistant minister in the same docket. Tourism has parachute jumping Najib Balala to attract tourists and potential investors.

No-nonsense man

The international team is to supplement and compliment, in co-ordinated ways, the Big Four, which also has perceived key players and known activists. For all to deliver, they need three performing survivors from the first term. These are Henry Rotich to fund, Fred Matiang'i for security, and James Macharia for infrastructure. Matiang'i cut the image of a sly no-nonsense man in ICT, lands, education and internal security.

He is the law and order man, to provide security as Macharia builds roads, railways, and airports. The infrastructure is critical to national security and to economic stimulation. It enables Mohamed Adan to attract industrial investors, with reduced transport costs, to put up factories away from congested urban areas. Adan, however, will need Charles Keter to reduce energy costs, which seems to be a tall order; both men need Macharia. Having proved ability, Macharia has duty to build, more than he did, in every corner of the republic and thus boost urban development everywhere. This means catering for two pillars, jobs and housing. He probably should think of linking all the 47 county headquarters with dual carriage ways.

Matiang providing security and Macharia building infrastructure makes the health and food pillars fall into place. Sicily Kariuki, in the Health pillar, is focused and has no apologies speaking for and delivering on whatever the president wants. Since Uhuru wants her to make Kenyans healthier, she embarked on streamlining the ministry.

Political matters

People cannot be healthy if they are hungry and so Mwangi Kiunjuri’s task is to ensure there is always sufficient food in the country. Excuses about droughts and floods leading to famine would not be acceptable for they indicate failures to think, plan, act, and deliver. Kariuki and Kiunjuri would have problems if there is security laxity and transport difficulties; they need Matiang'i and Macharia.

There are other critical players. Paul Kihara, the new Attorney General, would ensure that appropriate laws are in place, and discourage impunity. Ken Ogeto, an unassuming man as Solicitor General, will assist Kihara. Most important, however, is Raphael Tuju, the Jubilee Party Secretary General. The former MP for Rarieda, a position once held by Achieng Oneko, Tuju cuts a youthful urbanite image.

In Uhuru’s second term, it seems, Tuju will ensure that ministries play their part in delivering, and probably compete to be seen to deliver, on the party manifesto. Having previously served in different ministries forcefully, he will likely become the overseer of how ministers implement the Jubilee manifesto. He keenly observes the way the African National Congress in South Africa handles political matters of party interests.

He is in touch with the Communist Party of China that has ruled China for roughly 69 years. Learning from such successful ruling parties in other countries on how they deliver on their manifestoes, Tuju is likely to emerge as Mr Fixit in Uhuru’s Big Four project. Will he?

Prof Munene teaches History and international relations at USIU Africa

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