Uhuru's order triggers debate on Matiang'i position in Executive pecking order

Politics being the art of the possible, it cannot be ruled out that Deputy President William Ruto's near-daily "development crusades" could be affected by the order. [Photo, Standard]

In an executive order dated January 21, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government shall be the chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.

For clarity, the Executive Order did not name anybody to the office but it did allocate the role to an office.

CS Fred Matiang'i is the current holder of that enhanced office. Role-wise, him or his successor is mandated to:

  • Chair a key committee on the implementation of development programmes, whose membership includes all Cabinet secretaries, the Attorney General and Head of the Public Service.
  • Chair and coordinate government development programmes and projects.
  • Chair the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.
  • Provide supervisory leadership throughout the delivery circle of all national government programmes and projects.
  • Receive and deliberate on reports from the National Development Implementation Technical Committee and provide timely guidance on appropriate measures to address challenges constraining effective implementation and delivery of projects.
  • Monitor and evaluate follow-up mechanisms for resources allocated for the projects to ensure proper utilisation and realisation of the targeted outcome.
  • Provide coordinated strategic communication to the public and other stakeholders on the progress of the projects.
  • Prepare accurate and timely progress reports for presentation to the president and perform other functions as directed by the president.
  • According to the Constitution, Cabinet Secretaries are accountable individually and collectively, to the President for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions, which include:
  • Attending before a committee of the National Assembly, or the Senate, when required by the committee, and answer any question concerning a matter for which the Cabinet Secretary is responsible.
  • Acting in accordance with this Constitution.
  • Providing Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control.

While some circles believe the Executive Order somehow whittles down the clout of Deputy President William Ruto, it should be noted that the Constitution bars the Deputy President from holding any other public office, meaning nothing has been taken away from him.

But politics being the art of the possible, it cannot be ruled out that Dr Ruto's near-daily "development crusades" could be affected by the order, given that certain quarters view them as premature campaigns ahead of 2022 elections.

The order interestingly puts the communication on development programmes and their progress under the CS, suggesting that it is a single source of the truth.

This in turn means the DP may have to consult with the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee as he crisscrosses the country launching or opening projects.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi told Citizen on Wednesday the Executive Order is in line with the Constitution.

Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege and her Homa Bay counterpart Gladys Wanga, also quoted by Citizen, say the order is not aimed at elbowing out Mr Ruto.

It is, however, instructive that a decision of such magnitude was communicated when the President was in Mombasa and his Deputy in Central Kenya.

This will certainly be seen as denying the cloak of collective ownership of decisions the top duo has been associated with, this on a day the President met the country's top public administrators and police officers.

Chapter Nine of the Constitution lists the functions of the Deputy President as:

  • Being the principal assistant of the President and deputising for the President in the execution of the President's functions.
  • Performing the functions conferred by the Constitution and any other functions of the President as the President may assign.
  • Subject to Article 134, when the President is absent or is temporarily incapacitated, and during any other period that the President decides acting as the President.
  • The Deputy President shall not hold any other State or public office.