Uhuru issues stern warning to CSs

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates during National Anti-Corruption Conference 2019 at Bomas of Kenya on Friday 25/01/19. He has ordered CSs to follow his Execiutive Order or quit. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday ordered Cabinet secretaries who dabble in politics to quit or be sacked.

Sources told The Standard that Uhuru put on notice CSs, who fail to comply with his Executive orders, that they risked losing their jobs. This was during a Cabinet meeting held at Statehouse, Nairobi.

The President chaired the first Cabinet meeting since he issued the Executive Order that handed Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i sweeping powers on oversight of programmes across Government, including chairing a committee of all CSs.

Matiang'i will report to the President in his new role.

Some CSs are reported to have been unhappy with the arrangement that appears to place Matiang'i first among equals.

“The President was very firm on the conduct of CSs in relation to politics. He told the CSs to toe the line and adhere to the Constitution or be sent packing,” said the source.

The Constitution prohibits the CSs from dabbling in politics. Those appointed from parliament had to officially resign from their elective posts before taking office.

According to the sources privy to the discussions, the Head of State talked tough in regard to his Executive Order that gave sweeping powers to Matiang'i.

Though Deputy President William Ruto instructed all State officers to respect the order, his close allies read mischief, claiming Matiang'i's new role made him the Principal Assistant to the President and undermined the DP.

Executive Order

“The President was very straightforwrd. The Executive Order stands and all CSs must obey. Those opposing him or feel they cannot be supervised should give way,” said another source.

The President is said to have reminded the CSs that they were his appointees and those opposed to his orders would be fired.

Matiang'i is the chair of the National Development Implementation and communication cabinet committee that supervises the delivery of all government projects and programmes, monitors and evaluates allocation of resources and gives timely briefs to the president.

His mandate extends to any other roles assigned by the President.

Already, Matiang'i's new role is beginning to felt within Cabinet circles. When one CS was contacted about yesterday's meeting, he responded, “Please liaise with Dr Matiang'i. He is the one mandated to communicate on our meetings.”

At the meeting also attended by DP William Ruto, AG Kihara Kariuki, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita, the President is said to have dwelt on his Big Four agenda, corruption, Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and E-Procurement.

The President is understood to have advised that his Big Four agenda should be prioritised by all departments in ministries. 

On corruption, the President issued strict instructions to all CSs to ensure their ministries and departments adopt zero-tolerance for the vice, warning that there would be no ‘sacred cows’ in the ongoing war against graft. 

Building bridges

Uhuru also dwelt on the issue of BBI, which was launched after his handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga in March last year.

“He emphasised that all the CSs should be supportive and everybody must be involved,” said another CS who declined to be quoted.

According to the source, the meeting approved the establishment of a Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Center (C-IEDD Centre) at Embakasi Garrison, Nairobi.

It also discussed and approved the hosting of the 23rd session of Food and Agriculture/World Health Organisation coordinating committee meeting for Africa in Nairobi between September 2 and 6.