Cabinet secretaries will tomorrow resume duty amid tension over intensified talks of a Cabinet reshuffle in Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.
The speculations became rife following the arrival of opposition leader Raila Odinga in the coastal resort city of Mombasa, where the President has been on a prolonged Christmas break.
The CSs and the principal secretaries (PSs) have been on leave for the last 18 days after Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, allowed them time to celebrate the holidays with families and friends.
“In the spirit of allowing you to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, it has been decided that you will take Christmas recess with effect from Friday 21 December to Monday, 7 January 2019,” read Mr Kinyua’s letter to the officers.
A Cabinet reshuffle has been on the cards for a while as a rejuvenated Uhuru tries once again to steady the ship and get individuals on board that he can trust with delivering his legacy projects to Kenyans.
Raila’s arrival in Mombasa on Friday afternoon occurred amid sentiments that the two leaders would meet to perhaps agree on a list of new names that might be included in a new list of the president’s inner circle.
The anti-graft purge is also thought to be another push factor in the president’s decision to move his Cabinet ministers, some of whom have been directly or indirectly linked to graft.
In July last year, President Kenyatta swapped his Cabinet Secretaries, moved around Permanent Secretaries and made a raft of appointments within the foreign mission, with the hope that this would bring him a step closer to delivering the campaign promises he made to Kenyans.
Some of those affected in last year’s reshuffle were Adan Mohammed, who was moved from the Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Ministry - a docket he had occupied since the Uhuru’s first term, to the less illustrious Ministry of East Africa Community and Regional Development.
Mohammed’s move came hot on the heels of a public tiff between him and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi over possible presence of metallic substances in confiscated sugar, suspected to have been irregularly imported.
Peter Munya, who swapped places with Mohammed, continued his journey towards the centre of power after his failed bid to retain the Meru governor’s post.
The president’s second and final term has been dogged by massive corruption scandals that have fallen short of touching on some of his ministers that he retained after last year’s reshuffle, with a number of PSs being directly fingered and charged over allegations of graft.
These graft allegations have threatened to split Uhuru’s Cabinet right through the middle with a section of Cabinet appointees allied to Deputy President William Ruto alleging a lopsided war on graft aimed at targeting individuals thought to be the DP’s political allies.
At stake for the president is a final leg of legacy that he thinks can only be delivered by individuals who trust not only in him but the systems he is trying to create. Systems that have been endorsed by Opposition leader Raila Odinga, currently at loggerheads with Ruto.
A reshuffle might also accord the president an opportunity to get a more vocal posse besides him as he prepares to take on the challenge of whipping up the country and legislators to answer calls for a referendum before the country once again stumbles into another winner-takes all presidential election.
Following the handshake, both Raila and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka are believed to have submitted lists of individuals they favour for Cabinet posts in the event that Uhuru decides to replace those thought to be slowing down his government’s plans.
“I have already submitted names for diplomatic and civil service appointments. I hope this will be done in the new year so that we can move our country in one direction,” Kalonzo told the Sunday Standard last week.
Uhuru has publicly chastised his CSs over lethargy and a failure to be accountable for the responsibilities bestowed upon them. “Being a CS does not mean sitting in the office. Being a CS is not about being a big man. It is not just attending meetings. It is about being hands-on.
When he announces it, this would be the first time President Kenyatta has looked towards a reshuffle to jump start stalled intentions.