Ruto's office gets more powers in latest reorganisation of executive

President William Ruto (centre), Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (right), Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Affairs CS Musalia Mudavadi during a recent event in Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

President William Ruto's Executive Order No. 2 of 2023 has brought more dockets under the Executive Office of the President in what is seen as a strategy to solidify his grip on his administration.

The executive order saw the reorganisation of ministerial portfolios, the re-assignment of state officers serving in the senior ranks of the Executive and the national security organs and mandate changes.

Officers who will be working under the Executive Office of the President are Chief of Staff Felix Koskei, his deputy Josphat Nanok, State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed and President’s Council of Economic Advisors led by David Ndii.

Others are Secretary to the Cabinet Mercy Wanjau, State House Comptroller Katoo ole Metito, Chief of Strategy Execution Adan Mohammed, Secretary to the National Security Council Monica Juma and National Security Advisor, Women Rights Advisor Harriette Chiggai, Climate Change Special Advisor Ali Mohammed and Private Secretary Reuben Maiyo.

The Office of Fiscal Affairs and Budget Policy, the Office of the Economic Transformation, the Minorities and Marginalised Affairs Unit and the Head of the Presidential Communication Service also fall under the Executive Office of the President.

It has also taken up some of the functions and agencies of the State Department for Interior such as the publishing of the Kenya Gazette, the printing of government security documents and the policy on betting, lotteries and gaming.

Some of the Ministries that have not been affected include Roads and Transport, Lands Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, Cooperatives and MSMEs.

Other unaffected ministries are Petroleum and Energy, East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development, Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs.

Prof Gitile Naituli, a political analyst, noted that  Ruto’s move to increase and give himself more departments may affect the efficiency and successful delivery of the intended purposes for the establishment of the same offices.

“The framers of the 2010 Constitution were keen on the number of the Cabinet posts and limited them to 22 because of efficiency. The bigger the size of ministries, departments and agencies, the lesser the efficiency,” he noted.

But Vincent Kimosop, a policy and governance expert describes as a ‘provision of clarity in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) the President has also explained the roles of the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

He noted that the Mudavadi’s initial roles of coordinating entities have been removed to ease the confusion that came along as the President and the Deputy had also been tasked with the roles.

President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, recently. [PCS]

“This will help in the provision of clarity, responsibilities and accountability of the officer bearers,” Kimosop told The Standard.

Even as Kimosop opines that the reorganisation will provide clarity, the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary has still retained some organs within government delivery.

The organs include the National Government Coordination Committee and the Principal Secretaries Committee whose meetings will be chaired by Mudavadi while, at the same time, ‘convened’ by the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service.

“It is not lost that the reorganisation comes at a time the National Dialogue Committee which has agreed among other things, the embedment of the office of Prime Cabinet Secretary in the law, has retreated to draft its final report,” Kimosop noted.

Mudavadi will also be in charge of three State Departments and will man the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the National Treasury. 

"In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, he will lead in the implementation of the national labour migration policy as a key pillar of Kenya's foreign policy," the executive order reads in part. 

The State Department for Performance and Delivery Management, which has been at the centre of disagreement between CS Moses Kuria and Mudavadi, has been firmly put under Kuria’s docket, meaning he is tasked with overseeing, monitoring and evaluating the performance of all government ministries and agencies.

He will also coordinate all institutionalisation of performance management in public service and identification of innovative mechanisms to address affecting public service delivery.

Prof Naituli opined that the reorganisation was Ruto’s political chess game with the civil servants.

“He is massaging the egos of his close confidants, entrenching his blue-eyed boys while dehorning others in a game that will confuse all the Cabinet,” noted Naituli.

In the Ministry of Health, three functions that had been moved to the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards have reverted to the State Department for Medical Services (Reproductive Health Policy, Immunisation Policy and HIV/AIDS and STIs control) as is the Kenya Biovax Institute Ltd.

The Kenya Institute of Primate Research is back to the State Department for Public Health from the State Department for Medical Services.

The revamped and renamed Ministry of Youth Affairs, Creative Economy and Sports has a host of new functions covering youth entrepreneurship, life skills, National Volunteer Policy and coordination of the National Internship and Apprenticeship Programme.