President Uhuru Kenyatta’s abrasive leadership style in his second term has taken friends and foes by surprise.
So unpredictable is the President that even his once loyalists turned rebels are accusing him of betrayal and political prosecution.
He has ditched the soft, chummy demeanor of the first term, where he publicly hugged and back-patted his buddies to assume the mien of a secretive and no-nonsense leader. So abrasive he has become that he has on a number of occasions publicly chided senior government officials.
In recent times, Kenyatta has given a dress down to top government officials.
Unlike in the past, the Head of State has held a series of meetings with the cabinet, regional and county commissioners, security chiefs and governors.
Ailing agricultural sector
On Tuesday during a press conference at State House, Mombasa, the President announced the Cabinet reshuffle where Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri was sacked. On the same day Kenyatta flew to Nakuru where he issued tittle deeds and later hosted elders at his Gicheha farm in Rongai.
It was in Nakuru that politicians saw the new face of the president as some were locked out during the presentation of title deeds.
“Uhuru is no lame duck. He has teeth and can bite,” said political commentator Kobia Ataya.
Another political analyst Prof Herman Manyora avers that the President can be tough and ruthless.
“Let Uhuru’s looks not decisive you. He was accused of being hands off his government by those who thought the DP was running the show while he operated at 22 per cent. Things are just beginning and he will be tougher in coming days,” said Manyora.
He attributed his no-nonsense leadership style to post 2022 political matrix.
“His eyes are firmly on post 2022. His actions are informed by his legacy agenda. The stick and carrot is clearly illustrated in his Mombasa national address, especially aimed at Mt Kenya backyard,” he said.
He said the president’s harsh tone was geared towards political power and that’s why he was dispensing goodies to his people, especially addressing the ailing agricultural sector.
“His political appointments and sacking are all meant to woo voters and support from his people,” he added.
Allies are yet to believe that the President could have let go of his supporters like Governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) as well as former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge.
Worse still, is the public lecture and display of displeasure at leaders especially allied to the Tangatanga wing of Jubilee, supporting Deputy President William Ruto, that has been involved in early 2022 politics despite his pleas to stop.
Political analyst Martin Oloo also concurred that times to perceive Kenyatta as a lame duck president are over.
“He has decided to rein in on his opponents out to derail his legacy and started with his own backyard by dealing with those messing him up. To achieve his agenda, he has to be ruthless,” he said.
He however noted that the President is moderate and has not gone to the extreme.
“He is not vicious and he is not as powerful as we thought. He didn’t go deep in his Cabinet reshuffle and reorganisation of government as was expected. He didn’t seriously deal with the rebels opposing him as was anticipated though he made a statement,” Mr Oloo argued.
He added that a lot will happen especially to those openly opposing him.
“By bringing in former Senator Mutahi Kagwe into the Cabinet and appointing new Chief Administrative Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, Uhuru has made a political move to consolidate his support base,” said Oloo.
Late last year, Kandara MP Alice Wahome accused the Head of State of taking the country back to the dark days. Ms Wahome publicly admonished him for the sorry state of affairs and claims of a ploy to stay in power by amending the Constitution.
A number of Central MPs, governors and senators who were the DP’s allies have either recoiled back and repented while those still defiant like Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Njoro have tasted Kenyatta’s strong medicine for going against him.
Ruto’s allies have found themselves on the receiving end at one point even losing government security like Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa.
In fact, the President’s commitment to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), has taken aback Jubilee leaders opposed to it as he is no longer begging anyone but whipping like-minded leaders to support his legacy agenda.
Apart from the Big Four Agenda, the president has not spared anyone out to antagonise him after the handshake with opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The President has maintained that he wants to steer the economy, push for political hygiene and unity, devoid of ethnic mobilisation.
“It’s unfortunate that BBI was meant to unify the country not causing divisions, however some people feel left out. We should take with each other not at each other,” he said recently while outlining his six point agenda for 2020.
He pitched for good governance, zero tolerance to graft, youth employment, and economic growth as he lashed out at leaders engaged in politicking.
His actions are characterised by former Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe’s stern earning that it will not be business as usual and urged leaders to brace themselves for a more lethal, brutal and ruthless President.
Mr Murathe, a confidant of the President while speaking exclusively to KTN News after the August 8, 2017 presidential polls affirmed the president’s commitment to law and order, political discipline and the fight against corruption.
He asserted, “He remains focused on where he wants to take this country I am very sorry for people after Uhuru gets re-elected because I believe his agenda will be his legacy issues which will be law, order, discipline and the fight against corruption.”
Murathe added: “You first have to deal with the establishment, then you put in systems in place. He is the only guy who has sacked six ministers ever not just in Kenya but around Africa on mere allegations. So it is not like he is going to start in his final term his commitment to fight corruption is clear,”
He also cited the renewed war on corruption, evident by the change of guard at the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission, the Director Criminal Investigations and Director of Public Prosecutions.