Kenya Kwanza deal: Ruto will appoint Mudavadi as 'prime cabinet secretary'

Kenya Kwanza Alliance: Deputy President William Ruto speaks with ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi at Nyang'ori PAG headquarters in Vihiga County on April 21, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Deputy President Dr William Ruto will share his government and power with his deputy president and a prime cabinet secretary, should he be elected in the August 9 General Election.

A coalition agreement between the DP’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and Moses Wetangula's Ford Kenya was filed with the Registrar of Political Parties on Sunday, May 8.

The agreement opens up the coalition to power sharing in a partially expanded Executive, contrary to Ruto’s earlier reluctance to power-sharing arrangements during the campaign against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

In the power pact, seen by the Standard, the three parties face the August poll as a coalition of political parties, called the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. The agreement recognizes the three parties as “founding member parties.”

While they have opened up space to others, they visibly enjoy priority rights as the parent partners. Another eleven parties have joined the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. However, the finer details of what is in it for them are said to be domiciled in addendums to the mother agreements. 

The Standard has not seen these addendums which, according to alliance sources, have been developed into promissory charters, from town hall meetings that the DP and his co-principals have recently addressed.

UDA is the first among equals in this agreement. The positions of president and deputy president are reserved for the DP’s party, according to Article 21(a) of the coalition agreement. “UDA shall nominate the coalition’s presidential and deputy presidential candidates in the General Election of 9 August,” the accord says. 

It leaves little doubt that Ruto’s running mate will be from his own party, contrary to speculations that this role could go to ANC’s Mudavadi. As if to put things beyond doubt, the fifth president is expected to appoint a prime cabinet secretary who will be from ANC.

“Pursuant to Article 131(1) (b) and Article 132(3) (c) of the Constitution, the President of the Republic shall, within (14) days of being sworn in  following the General Election create the position of prime cabinet secretary.”

This position has been reserved for ANC, according to Article 6(f) of the agreement. “ANC shall nominate a prime cabinet secretary for appointment by the President of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitution,” the agreement says. 

Mudavadi is, therefore, set to be a de facto “prime minister,” nominated by his party and appointed by the president. And in what appears to be correction of coalition mistakes and mischief from the past, Ruto will be expected to gazette specific functions to be assigned to the prime cabinet secretary.

The prime cabinet secretary shall “assist the president and the deputy president in coordination and supervision of Government Ministries and State Departments,” the agreement reads.

He shall also coordinate and supervise National Government functions and oversee the implementation of national policies and programmes.

Also to be gazetted under the prime cabinet secretary is the chairing of the legislative agenda across all ministries and departments, as well as coordination and supervision of the technical monitoring and evaluation of government policies, programmes and projects.

It is not clear how this will affect the voter turnout and voting patterns, but it would seem that these concessions are in part aimed at attracting support from the Mudavadi and Wetang’ula strongholds. 

Separately, the deputy president under Ruto will, unlike Ruto under President Uhuru Kenyatta, have clearly defined roles, including chairing Cabinet committees, overseeing implementation of Cabinet decisions and coordination of intergovernmental relations between the National Government and county governments.

Other roles are coordination of planning and supervision of development partners’ funded projects, and coordination of constitutional commissions and independent offices, in matters that require the intervention of the National Government.

In the absence of the rest of the addendums to the coalition’s founding agreement, the arrangement gives huge advantage to Western Kenya stronghold of Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.

It remains of interest to see what is in it for the rest of the country – and especially for late entrants into Kenya Kwanza.

For example, Wetang’ula is expected to become the Speaker of the National Assembly, as Ford Kenya shall nominate the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the president shall accept this nomination, and cause coalition MPs to validate this nomination in the assembly.

Moreover, Ford Kenya and ANC will jointly have 30 percent of the positions in the National Government, to include Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, diplomats, and chairs and directors of State corporations.

As the positions are reserved for them as political parties, and not as leaders from the Western region, it should be expected that they will distribute some of these positions to other parts of the country, where they have strong followings.

Article 22 of the coalition agreement, however, specifically allocates benefits to Western Kenya, including completion of all bitumen road projects as at August 9 this year.

Other benefits for the region are 1000 kilometres of new bitumen roads, revival and modernization of Mumias and Nzoia sugar factories as priority projects.