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Blow-by-blow account of ‘tense’ Cabinet meeting

By Jacob Ngetich | October 10th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Details have emerged on how Thursday’s Cabinet meeting saw several ministers take on Deputy President William Ruto over his recent political activities.

The two-hour meeting at State House is said to have had two agendas and was described by some of those in attendance as ‘tense’.

At 11.20am, the opening prayers gave way to the reading of the agenda and updates of Tuesday’s sub committee meeting. A cabinet secretary moved for the adoption of resolutions and directives issued by the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) on Wednesday to check rising political temperatures.

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This was the main agenda of the Cabinet meeting alongside the approval of the 2020 Budget Review and Outlook Paper for the Financial Year 2021/2022’s Medium Term Budget.

After the presentation, cabinet members were invited to ventilate on the matter and one of the ministers raised concerns about the political tensions in the country because of heightened activities by politicians.

The CS cited the event in Kenol, Murang’a, where two lives were lost and noted that the political activities were stoking disharmony in the country.

“If the situation is allowed to continue as it is, it will not be good for the country. We need to reduce the political tension,” the CS told the meeting according to a source who sought anonymity.

During Ruto’s visit to Kenol in Murang’a, a group of youths who the police claim were hired, attempted to disrupt the meeting leading to the chaos and deaths of the two young men.

Another CS said the campaigns were happening in complete disregard to the Ministry of Health guidelines to check Covid-19, adding that it was unfortunate to see politicians, including senior government officials, flouting the rules.

Animated by the debate, one of the CSs asked the president to allow them to actively engage in politics because they had been accused by allies of a senior politician of engaging in the same.

But it is one of the cabinet members, impatient with the colleagues ‘beating about the bush’ that directly took on the DP, saying he had brought about unnecessary tension in the country through his politicking.

“The DP is here and he is the one who is encouraging his allies to call people, including CSs here, names. We are being abused every day by his confidants, and it is not fair,” said the cabinet member.

Another minister who spoke immediately after, went ahead to mention Ruto and said the DP had put the country into a campaign mode.

After it became clear that no other CS was willing to contribute on the matter, the DP was given a chance to comment on the debate.

The DP is said to have been brief in his response, essentially alluding to having been wrongly accused.

With no more members contributing to the matter, the meeting ended at about 1.30pm with a request to CSs to ensure government services were implemented.

Even as the cabinet meeting happened, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto appeared to be checkmating each other behind the scenes over control of Kisii politics.

On the same day, Ruto had scheduled to spend the day in Nyamira and Kisii counties together with local MPs allied to him for two fundraisers – one for a group of 10 Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) churches and another for a boda boda saccos in Kebirigo town.

The meetings would later be dispersed by security offices who occupied both Kiberigo Boys High School grounds and Tombe SDA where the church event was ongoing.

A little later after the cabinet meeting, Uhuru would host leaders from Kisii and Nyamira to discuss development in the region ahead of this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations.

Led by Governor James Ongwae (Kisii County) and his Nyamira County counterpart John Nyagarama, the leaders engaged the President in a detailed conversation on a number of projects including roads, water supply, education and fresh produce markets among others.

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