Cabinet Secretaries take on DP Ruto during Cabinet meeting

President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi yesterday. [PSCU]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto yesterday came face to face in a full cabinet meeting held for the first time in over a year, to transact government business.

Ruto who has been on record complaining that his duties had been delegated to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, yesterday sat to the right of his boss as the team deliberated on a number of issues, in a session that also sentiments about collective responsibility raised.

The President arrived for the Cabinet meeting, a few minutes past 10am. The meeting then begun with a prayer before they embarked on clearance of Bills including some that had been passed into law without Cabinet approval. The Cabinet meeting is said to have approved over 100 Bills, policies, regulations and other statutory instruments.

Some of the Bills, Policies and Regulations ratified by Cabinet yesterday included the Kenya School of Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Supreme Court (Amendment)Bill, 2021, and The Intellectual Property Bill, 2021.

Others were the Kenya Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Policy, 2020-2030, The Draft Microfinance Bill, 2021, The Financial Status of Kenya Power & Lighting Company PLC, The Right-Sizing of Kenya Airways PLC and the Investigations for Recovery of  Illegally and Irregularly Registered Public Lands.

According to one of the CSs who attended the meeting, concerns were raised by a senior member of the Cabinet on ratification of the Bills, retrospectively, since some had already gone through parliament and been implemented.

At some point during discussions on the context of the 2022 Economic Survey, a number of CSs took on top leaders within the team for hitting out at government. Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Keriako Tobiko (Environment and Forestry) raised issues of collective responsibility among members of the Cabinet amid concerns that some leaders within the team were criticising government even as others were working hard to ensure that the economy was good. Matiang’i’s statement was echoed by Mr Mucheru and Mr Tobiko .

“There are some members of the Cabinet here who are portraying the Government in bad light and they serve in the same government,” the Environment and Forestry CS told Cabinet.

When it was his time to talk, Dr Ruto who is said to have maintained studious silence told the meeting that the economic situation was not good and the figures as indicated seemed too good to be true.

“If you live in Kenya, you must be a stranger not to know that the economy is doing poorly and the cost of living has gone up and that people were suffering,” he said.   

During the meeting, according to the source, the Cabinet endorsed several laws including the Huduma Namba Bill, the Political Parties Bill, the Election Bill and several others. A Cabinet dispatch shared by PSCU later yesterday did not however include these legislations.

Ruto is said to have questioned the legality and the implications of passing such Bills over a year after they were passed.

“I want to be taken to record that I do not agree with the passing of those Bills by the Cabinet, months after they were taken into law and already implemented by the Government. I don’t agree with doing them retrospect,” the DP is said to have noted after he was asked for the closing remarks.

The President, however, is said to have responded by stating that he had the Executive power to have them passed in Parliament and seek approvals later in the Cabinet. The meeting considered Bills of Parliament, policies, treaties and conventions, and the progress report of implementation status of various priority projects with a focus on education, agriculture, healthcare, enterprises, and infrastructure.

At least three CSs The Standard spoke to however denied the above version of events and maintained that the session was cordial.

Others Bills ratified were on energy, information and communication, industrialisation, investments, foreign relations and defence. The Cabinet also looked at the financial Year 2021/2022 and Medium Term Budget and the Financial Year 2020/2021 Supplementary Estimates alongside the proposed Proceeds of Crime and Anti Money Laundering Amendment Bill 2021.

The Cabinet approved the request for Approval to Dispose of Covid-19 Commodities, the implementation of the Framework for Revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line, and the proposal to amend the Public Debt Ceiling and Harmonise the Definition of Public Debt in the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act 2012.

A statement shared with the office of the Cabinet noted that in 2021, the Kenyan economy recovered from the crippling effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic and expanded by 7.5 per cent compared to a contraction of 0.3 per cent in 2020.

It noted that those events had constrained global supply chains and led to significant escalations in the prices of energy, crude oil, food, farm inputs, and construction materials. The meeting which lasted two hours, also considered the state of food security in the country and noted that the situation has been negatively impacted by the delayed onset of the long rains.

It directed the Ministry of Agriculture to enhance access to the subsidised fertiliser, and also directed the Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation to fast-tract the construction of various ongoing dams, water pans, and reservoirs so as to enhance the coverage of land under irrigation.

The Cabinet granted its seal of approval to the application by the Laikipia County government’s issuance of a domestic Infrastructure Bond at a market-determined coupon thus allowing it to borrow Sh1.16 billion.

The Cabinet also considered and approved host country agreements of international bodies and institutions.