President Uhuru Kenyatta has made another attempt at steadying the ship that is his government by swapping Cabinet Secretaries.
He also moved around Principal Secretaries and made a raft of appointments within the foreign mission, with the hope that this will bring him a step closer to delivering the campaign promises made to the millions of Kenyans who voted for him.
In a move that has been in the works for a while, President Kenyatta moved Adan Mohammed from the Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Ministry, a docket he had occupied since the President came to power, to the less illustrious Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development.
Mohammed’s move comes hot on the heels of a public tiff between him and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi over the possible presence of metallic substances in confiscated sugar, suspected to have been irregularly imported.
Although he had a rather uneventful first five years in office, Mohammed has been in the eye of the storm recently, his ministry coming under fire over the seemingly unchecked entry of counterfeit products into the country, necessitating a countrywide crackdown of an array of products, most notably sugar.
While it remains unclear whether this battle against counterfeit might have led to his transfer, some of those who served under him in various arms of government had their scalps claimed by the war on counterfeit.
Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Charles Ongwae and nine other officials were arrested over importation of substandard fertiliser and procurement of stickers. The officials who included Eric Chesire and Eric Ochieng, who are senior managers at KEBS, were picked up from their offices and taken to the DCI headquarters for interrogation and later presented in court where they faced an array of charges, including manslaughter.
Peter Munya, who has swapped places with Mohammed, continues his journey towards the centre of power after his failed bid to retain the Meru governor’s post. Munya, who has on several occasions in the past talked up his ambitions for the presidency, might look at this as a leg up towards his relevance in quicksand politics of 2022.
However, Friday’s announcement did not miss the odd curve ball. Curiously, some of the names read out by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena missed out on an official list that was sent out to media houses.
For instance, the list Dena read on TV named Migori governor aspirant Ochillo Ayacko as a candidate for an ambassadorial post. However, the statement sent to newsrooms curiously missed Ayacko’s name and instead had former MP Paddy Ahenda, whose name was missing from the initial statement.
Sources close to Ayacko claimed the politician had declined the nomination, having set his sight on the forthcoming Migori Senate by-election following the death of Senator Ben Oluoch Okello.
But speaking to the Saturday Standard Friday, Mr Ayacko said: “The nomination is indeed a great honour to me and I thank President Uhuru Kenyatta. But when you see my name being withdrawn from the nominees’ list, it is an indication that there’s something even better for me.”
Asked if he will be focusing his energies on the by-election, Ayacko declined to comment, only saying: “I will not talk about that.”
Also, Manoah Esipisu, the journalist-turned-President’s spokesperson, vacated the high pressure communication job to the more relaxed world of diplomacy.
The mini reshuffle saw the return of former civil servants perceived as loyal to the Jubilee government, rewarded with Principal Secretary and Ambassadorial posts. Notably missing were names of perceived ODM leader Raila Odinga allies, whose inclusion into government has long thought to be part of the deal that led to the cessation of hostilities between the President and the leader of opposition.
Sarah Serem, the former chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission was named ambassador.
While reacting to news of the reshuffle, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) said the changes were welcome. “We are happy that President Kenyatta has heard and acted upon our appeal. Kenyans want to see the immediate resuscitation of public interest in the Kenya Bureau of Standards,” COFEK CEO Stephen Mutoro said.
“We are optimistic that Peter Munya is equal to the task.”
Uhuru’s second term in office has been dogged by claims of infighting between a section of the political class allied to him and that allied to his deputy, William Ruto. Because of this, every move made by State House is inevitably interpreted through the eyes of the perceived conflict between Ruto and Uhuru.
Big four agenda
According to State House, President Kenyatta made the changes in the Cabinet and Diplomatic Service as part of his ongoing efforts to re-engineer the Government in line with his Big 4 agenda.
Others affected were Prof Colleta Suda who moved to the Ministry of Education as Chief Administrative Secretary and Principal Secretary in charge of State Department for University Education.
She replaces Simon Kachapin who was moved to the Ministry of Energy as Chief Administrative Secretary.
The PSs moved included Charles Sunkuli to State Department for Devolution, Nelson Marwa to Social Protection, Pension and Senior Citizens Affairs State Department, Zainab Abdalla Hussein to State Department for Correctional Services and Alfred Cheruiyot to the State Department of Post Training and Skills Development.