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Uhuru keeps the nation in suspense over cabinet nominees

By Roselyne Obala and Moses Nyamori | Jan 11th 2018 | 4 min read
President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the nation at State House, Nairobi. [Photo/Standard]

Kenyans waited with bated breath last evening for President Uhuru Kenyatta to announce his much-awaited Cabinet.

Anxiety has been building for the past five days been among the 13 cabinet secretaries whose names were missing from the partial list read by the president last Friday.

While making the announcements, the Head of State was categorical that only six out  of 19 CSs had been retained creating anxiety among the remaining 13 who feared they might be fired.

Consequently, some of the 13 CSs have been making technical appearances in their respective offices even after State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu clarified that the CSs were still in office until the Cabinet is reconstituted.

The same mood pervaded various ministry headquarters where 42 principal secretaries do not know whether they will be axed, retained or reassigned.

The President dflies to South Africa this morning. Specuation had it that he would name the reamaing bit of the Cabinet before his departure.

His unusual approach to making his Cabinet has kept everybody guessing, including his confidants who complained that he was no longer predictable.

The President's unpredictability has also unsettled the four major political parties affiliated to Jubilee for they too are staking a stake in his Government but are no longer sure whether their interests will be factored.

There has been some grumbling over the apparent disregard for gender equality after no woman nominated when President Kenyatta made his first announcement.

"I am equally surprised. The President is a strong supporter of women's issues in this country. I hope very soon there will more than a third of women appointed to the Cabinet. The criteria appears to track record of superior performance and I am sure there are women who meet that standard," said Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia.

Myriad interests

When the President finally assembles his team, he is expected to balance myriad interests to avoid upsetting various constituencies which played a critical role in his reelection.

Expectations are high in Ex-governor Peter Munya’s Party of National Unity (PNU), Governor Alfred Mutua's (Machakos) Maendeleo Chap Chap, Martha Karua’s Narc-Kenya, Economic Freedom Party, Senator Gideon Moi’s Kanu, ex-governor Ukur Yattani’s Frontier Alliance Party and Wajir County’s Party of Reforms and Development (PDR).

Already, Yattani has landed a Cabinet slot, raising hope among the remaining parties that endorsed Kenyatta’s re-election bid.

These interests, observers point out, must be balanced with those of his deputy William Ruto who is expected to use the machinery to contest for the presidency in 2022.

But even as the Cabinet issue dominates talks within Jubilee pParty, it has giving the National Super Alliance (NASA) enough grounds to question the seemingly strange operations at the house on the hill, depicting President's rare traits.

Last evening the entire media fraternity waited in vain for the announcement after word went round that President Kenyatta would finally unveil the legacy team.

However, State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu dismissed the same, saying they did not operate on speculation even as the national broadcaster van was spotted entering the premises, suggesting a live broadcast was in the offing.

Asked when the President would announce his new Cabinet, Mr Manoah said: "By now you know we don't speculate."

Uncharacteristically there has been deafening silence from Majority Leaders Aden Duale (National Assembly) and Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate), who appeared to be clueless on the President’s action.

They have however argued the President has the exclusive rights to name his Cabinet without consultations, which has not been the norm with his deputy in the first term in office.

They argued the fresh appointments could include some of the current CSs and that’s why the President talked of redeployment of the retained ones and new ones.

Mr Duale yesterday said the full Cabinet would be announced by next week, without giving further details.

Thorny issue

"Get it from me, the President will have a full Cabinet by end of next week," he said.

But the thorny issue of the NASA assertion that he lacks legitimacy to rule remains amid plans to swear in Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka as 'peoples’ president' and 'deputy president'.

Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe indicated that President Kenyatta's second term would be characterised by implementation of his campaign pledges.

He said this term is about legacy and therefore Kenyatta will stop at nothing to ensure he gets the best.

Lately, the President’s authoritative mien, sometimes reading the riot act to various Government agencies, paints the picture of a no-nonsense leader.

The initial Cabinet list, according to insiders, was a top-guarded secret only shared with a few people close to the President.

The DP has had to publicly come out to refute claims of a rift between him and his boss.

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