Anxiety is building within top levels of government over anticipated changes that may see six Cabinet Secretaries axed.
To secure his legacy, ring-fence the ‘handshake’ deal between him and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, rid his government of lethargy and make a big statement against corruption, President Uhuru Kenyatta has been considering changes in the government for a while now.
Insiders say a sizeable number of CSs believe their time is nigh. While some are ready for the changes whenever they will come, others have resorted to private and public outbursts that have betrayed their place in the government.
Others have gone into an appeasement frenzy to mend the fences they have broken over the period they have been in government.
In his Jamhuri Day speech, President Kenyatta said he will stop at nothing to ensure a graft-free government.
“To those engaging in fraud and abuse of office, please listen to me keenly: you can run but you cannot hide,” he said.
Day’s before this, Uhuru’s “lethal duo” in his anti-graft purge – Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji – rounded off senior government officials in strategic parastatals and paraded them in court to face graft charges.
The president has awarded them with State commendations. This is said to have further set off a wave of panic among the CSs linked to those already hauled before court. “It is the president who hires and fires. If he decides today that I am no longer fit to serve in his Cabinet, what powers do I have to say no?” said one of the CSs we talked to.
On Friday night, President Kenyatta met with Raila and a number of top Opposition leaders. Prior to the night meeting at State Lodge in Kisumu, Uhuru and Raila had privately met thrice in Nairobi’s State House to review his government.
Uhuru has on several occasion expressed his lack of confidence on his own government, publicly reprimanding CSs and setting Kenyans against his government officials as far as corruption is concerned. While launching the Coast Guard at Kilindini Habour a month ago, Uhuru made it clear that he had to take refuge outside the core of his government to ensure that the idea took off.
“I knew they will start telling me about billions required and other stories. I started the plans with General Mwathethe (Chief of Kenya Defence Forces) quietly as we knew some people will bring up some politics here and there,” President Kenyatta said. Raila has in the past assured his allies that he will ensure they benefit from government appointments, clearly indicating that there are such changes on the way.
The boldest indications of the changes in Cabinet and several other government offices were let out by Raila a few months ago when he promised 17 MPs from Western Kenya that he will ensure they benefit from the appointments.
Jubilee vice-chair David Murathe, a close ally of the president, confirmed that the reshuffle was in the offing. “I can assure you the president is going to be ruthless,” Murathe said.