Cabinet changes loom

President Uhuru Kenyatta holds talks with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon at State House, Nairobi. [Photo/Standard]

A Cabinet reshuffle looms with reports suggesting President Uhuru Kenyatta is determined to ensure success of his Big Four priority areas and the fight against corruption.

Sources indicate that at least four Cabinet secretaries could be shown the door, especially those whose ministries have been dogged by corruption, while others may be transferred in the reshuffle.

The reshuffle and re-organisation could take place in a week’s time and includes new parastatal appointments set for gazettement today (Friday).

There are indications the changes are linked to Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda - manufacturing, housing, food security and universal healthcare - as well as his resolve to slay the corruption dragon.

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The success of the Big Four is key to securing the President’s legacy while Deputy President William Ruto, who hopes to succeed him, would want to run for the presidency on that performance record.

One of the targeted CSs is said to have contemplated resigning recently when his ministry featured prominently in the news for all the wrong reasons. He was reportedly held back by his advisors and is now said to be one of those on the chopping block.

“The President might change his Cabinet anytime. He is determined to deliver on the pledges he made to Kenyans during his campaigns last year,” disclosed a close confidant of the President. “There are CSs who might not survive the onslaught. Those who were left out in the mini-Cabinet last year might be affected.” 

The sources told The Standard there was an intervention to help return them to the Cabinet, but their performance might edge them out.

“The President gave them a second chance. However, not much has happened to help him in his reform agenda and now hard decisions must be made,” said another ally of the President.

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They revealed Uhuru has been operating from the Coast and is playing his cards close to his chest. Most of his decisions are handwritten to avoid any leaks.

“He is busy building bridges. After his second-term election, he has made a complete change in his operations. Very few close confidants are consulted before he makes major announcements. The first Cabinet was his own decision; it will not be surprising if he pulls a surprise among his circles,” said another leader.

Changes expected

In addition, heads are expected to roll at State House, where some changes are expected after the exit of spokesman Manoah Esipisu, who has been nominated to be the country’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom.

The National Treasury and ministries of Interior, Agriculture, Roads and Infrastructure, Education, Energy, Petroleum and Mining, and Sports are among those that have been dogged by controversy lately. 

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Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Adan Mohamed (formerly Trade and Industrialisation, and now East Africa Community), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Henry Rotich (Treasury) have appeared before parliamentary committees to defend their ministries over the sugar and maize scandals.

Mr Mohamed swapped places with EAC’s Peter Munya a fortnight ago following the fiasco surrounding a crackdown on contraband sugar and fertiliser.

Cabinet members have also been engaged in blame games. On the Ruaraka land saga, CSs Amina Mohamed (Education) and Farida Karoney (Lands) have given testimonies that have turned the heat on Matiang’i and Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang.

Amina presented a report by a Ministry of Education task force that indicated the Ruaraka land was public property and did not merit compensation to an individual.

Charles Keter (Energy) has openly criticised the crackdown that saw 19 senior Kenya Power managers arrested and charged with corruption.

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Last week, while addressing a meeting that brought together all PSs, CEOs and chairpersons of boards of all parastatals, Uhuru warned that the war on graft would not be derailed.

His message appeared to have been synchronised with one by Opposition leader Raila Odinga who was speaking at the same time but in a different forum about 300km from Nairobi.  

The purge

Speaking in Nyansiongo town, Raila said the purge on graft was not targeting any community but individuals.

There were conflicting reports yesterday about a meeting between Uhuru and Raila at the coast. The agenda of the meeting was not immediately clear.

This week, the ‘Building Bridges Initiative’ team that the two appointed after the famous March 9 ‘handshake’ announced it had postponed a conference set for August 6-8.

Instead, the team invited the public to submit a written memoranda on the nine-point agenda, “including how to prevent and deter corruption in all relevant, social, economic and governance issues”.

State House did not comment yesterday on the reports about the Uhuru-Raila meeting. Acting spokesperson Kanze Dena did not respond to phone calls or text messages.

Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango dismissed reports that his boss was in Kilifi this week while downplaying any meeting with the President.

“Raila has not been to Kilifi in the recent past and I don’t think Raila meeting the President is news anymore. The two leaders meet regularly and that is not out of the ordinary,” he said.

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Cabinetreshufflingpresident uhuru kenyattabig 4 agendaloomsnext moveethics and anti-corruption commission