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Five Cabinet Secretaries axed in reshuffle as two MPs nominated

By Alex Ndegwa and ALPHONCE SHIUNDU | November 25th 2015

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta has sacked the five Cabinet Secretaries suspended over corruption claims.

Among those lined up to replace them are two sitting MPs. The President last night nominated Kericho Senator Charles Keter and Malindi MP Dan Kazungu as Energy and Mining Cabinet Secretaries respectively.

Former MP Mwangi Kiunjuri was named Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary, replacing Anne Waiguru who resigned on Saturday after sustained public pressure to step aside over the National Youth Service Sh791 million scandal.

Agriculture PS Sicily Kariuki was also promoted to newly-created Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs ministry.

The other new faces in Cabinet are Cleopa Mailu (Health), hitherto the CEO of Nairobi Hospital, Kenya Seed Managing Director Willy Bett (Agriculture) and Joe Mucheru (ICT), a former Google executive.

They replaced Mrs Charity Ngilu (Lands), Engineer Michael Kamau (Transport), Felix Koskei (Agriculture), Kazungu Kambi (Labour) and Davies Chirchir (Energy) who were all facing graft charges.

Ms Ngilu and Mr Kamau have since been charged in court, while Mr Koskei (Agriculture), Mr Kambi (Labour) and Davies Chirchir (Energy) were cleared of some allegations by the director of public prosecutions but had some issues pending.

The president sacked the five a day after unveiling tough measures to bolster the war against corruption on the back of rising reports of grand corruption and public demands that he acts to reverse the trend.

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It was the strongest statement yet the President appeared to make on restoring integrity and enforcing  anti-corruption measures that will see officials purged for being mentioned adversely or under investigation.

In a bid to restore the credibility of his Cabinet, Uhuru cracked the whip just a day after he unveiled a multi-sectoral anti-graft agency involving public and private sector, along side punitive measures targeting those found to have perpetrated or benefited from graft.

The house-cleaning in government, on the eve of the arrival of Pope Francis in the country, is President Kenyatta’s first step to show that he is ready to get rid of the political baggage that was holding him back in the fight against graft.

The Head of State has been under a lot of pressure not to re-appoint the Cabinet secretaries who had been suspended, to rework his government to make sure that the people of Kenya reap the benefits and  actualise the promises he made, with the General Election just two years away.
“A time has come to give new impetus to the administration,” said the President.

Impeachment motion

In changes that saw the number of ministries increased from 19 to 20, the President moved some of the CSs who were retained to other ministries. Jacob Kaimenyi, who survived a motion to impeach him as Education CS, was transferred to Lands.

The public education sector was recently in turmoil following the teachers’ strike and exam cheating.

Phyllis Kandie has lost the Tourism portfolio and gained Labour and East African Affairs, while Najib Balala will take over Tourism from the Mining ministry.

ICT CS Fred Matiang’i has been moved to Education and Health’s James Macharia has been transferred to Transport.

Those who retained their posts are Henry Rotich (Treasury), Joseph Nkaissery (Interior), Amina Mohammed (Foreign Affairs) and Raychelle Omamo (Defence).

The President, who stood with his deputy William Ruto during the briefing at State House, Nairobi, also increased the number of State departments from 26 to 41. They will be headed by principal secretaries.

The President appointed 15 new principal secretaries. Kazungu, Kiunjuri, and Keter join Joseph Nkaissery (Interior), Balala and Eugene Wamalwa (Water and Irrigation) in the Cabinet as politicians, meaning the Head of State is keen on having people in his Cabinet who will look at the politics of programmes as they render their advice.

Without being specific, the President acknowledged that after two years in power, he had realised that some ministries were “too large and difficult to administer” and that is why he had decided to set up more State departments to help “address the deficiencies”.

The Ministry of Devolution and Planning has been a large ministry with a budget of nearly Sh100 billion, with departments that were fully-fledged ministries in the previous administration.

On the day that the Opposition asked him to sack the top two bosses at the National Treasury over the Eurobond scandal, the Head of State ignored the call and retained Henry Rotich as the Cabinet secretary, and Kamau Thugge as the principal secretary.

These new changes, the President said, will actualise his four-pronged strategy for efficiency in government, guarantee the accessibility of public officers, improve the accountability of State officers and help him review all the promises he made.

Office of the President

The President also moved the two principal secretaries in the Ministry of Interior. He moved Monica Juma to Foreign Affairs, and Josepta Makobe to Special Programmes. The new principal secretary of Interior is Karanja Kibicho.
The Director of Medical Services, Nicholas Muraguri, also got a promotion. He becomes the principal secretary in the Health docket.

Uhuru also promised to make changes to his office to allow for effective running of government and also to improve my own ability to serve”.

The accounting officers’ first duty will be the “overhaul of the procurement departments” to rid them of the corrupt elements.
The new nominees will now be vetted by the National Assembly and approved before they take the oath of office. The President asked that the matter be expedited, to make sure his government gets back on its feet and delivers results before the August 2017 elections.

President Kenyatta asked the National Assembly to speed up the vetting of the “newly nominated” officials.

He explained the State departments were split because they were “too large and difficult to administer.”

The President said the changes were necessary to respond to challenges his administration was facing due to being the first government under the new Constitution.

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