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Raila Odinga, William Ruto's campaign promises that spell doom for taxpayers

Deputy President William Ruto with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a past event. [File, Standard]

Top presidential candidates Raila Odinga of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and Kenya Kwanza’s William Ruto could be staring at a heavy post-election burden to satisfy the expectations of the long list of allies.

With the list growing by the day as the two coalitions expand their winning potential by luring more allies into their camps with a promise for plum government jobs, observers believe that the only way they will appease all the allies is by expanding the Government. Their allies, too, admit they will have to exploit existing structures including the creation of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS) positions to accommodate many.

Such a move, however, has been tipped to weigh down on taxpayers who may be forced to fund the creation of new positions in government by the presidential hopefuls. Most political promises involve increased spending through the creation of new positions or an expansion of the government which spirals down on taxpayers. The two leaders have inked some of the promises to their allies in pre-elections pacts they signed to convince them to support their presidential bids. The deals include the creations of some positions in government.

And as the two presidential candidates intensify their efforts to win more allies, the development is slowly replicating the 2013 and 2017 polls where President Uhuru Kenyatta rallied several leaders into his camp with a promise of plum jobs in government.

How Uhuru did it

He, however, met their expectations by creating the positions of the Chief Administrative Secretaries in 2018 to accommodate his allies who lost in polls, a move that courts declared unconstitutional. The Secretary-General of his Jubilee party Raphael Tuju was awarded with the post of a Cabinet Secretary without portfolio. Yesterday, political analyst Adams Oloo told The Saturday Standard that both Ruto and Raila will be careful not to make a similar mistake, but claimed that they will find a way to accommodate all the allies angling for a slot in their government.

“Any of them who wins will find a way of now learning from that experience of walking in a straight path such that if there are any positions to be created they will do it constitutionally,” explains Oloo.

The two leaders and their camps believe their new allies are making a political play-making role which may alter the political matrix in their favour and boost their chances of winning. Some of their allies have shelved their ambitions for seats to intensify campaigns for them with the hopes of earning a slot in their administrations, raising expectations in the two camps

But with it comes the huge bag of post-election commitments and promises which observers believe can only be achieved through an expansion of government to feed the appetites of their allies. In Raila’s camp, the proposals for zoning and negotiated democracy which may see some candidates shelve their ambitions in favour of government jobs only adds to the list of his post-election headache should he clinch the presidency.

Yesterday, Raila who has already shared his partial candidate made another promise to retain Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i while on a campaign trail in Nyamira should he win the General Election. He also has a long list of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s men who are backing his bid.

Earlier, Matiangi had endorsed Raila for the seat. He is among the leaders Raila is banking his hopes on to consolidate more than 900,000 Gusii votes. Yesterday, several analysts admitted that the list of people expecting a slice of their administration could provide a real headache to both camps and may hurt taxpayers even more, should they opt for the only option-expansion of government to accommodate them.

Political commentator Kennedy Echesa said both Azimio and One Kenya Alliance shall have to make political sacrifices in specific regions to have one coalition candidate at every contest, with those sacrificing their ambitions getting in government.

“Unfortunately this comes at a cost which generally is appointment to government. The situation worsens when we have a number of elected leaders voluntarily not seeking elections and supporting Presidential candidate,” he said.

According to Echesa, the country could have a bloated government as a result of the high expectations from the allies of the presidential candidates.

“Second term governors are also angling for positions in both coalitions. The end result is formation of bloated government which shall be funded by the taxpayer,” argues Mr Echesa.

For some outgoing governors, senators and MPs, a political promissory note on appointments to the next government is what has informed their decisions to back their coalitions and have intensified campaigns for the two coalitions.

Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), James Ong’wae (Kisii), Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Woman Reps Sabina Chege (Murang’a), Soipan Tuya (Narok) and ODM chairman John Mbadi are among politicians hoping for appointments in the next government.

Expansion of government

The long list also includes ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi who has been promised the position of a Chief Minister in Ruto’s government. Others are National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, among others.

If either Raila or Dr Ruto wins, some of the politicians will have high hopes that the two leaders will return the favor and hand them slots in government. Prof Kindiki shelved his ambitions for Tharaka Nithi governor and was on the verge of being named the UDA presidential aspirant’s running mate before he was dropped last-minute for Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.

Yesterday, Nyando MP Jared Okello told The Saturday Standard that the Government is the biggest employer and that is what the presidential candidates will be hoping to exploit. According to Okello, although the law caps the CS positions at 22, there are unlimited slots in other positions such as CAS and PS that the leaders might exploit.

“There are several areas they can deploy their allies. There are countries where we can even have more than one ambassador, while PS’s can also be more than one in various ministries,” he said.

A senior Kenya Kwanza official also claimed that expansion of the government could come in handy to help meet the expectations of their allies.

“We will create some positions for them. For us however, we are a bit clear, there is a percentage of votes they should bring to guarantee such sacrifices,” said the politician.

 Political analyst Dismas Mokua argues that Raila Odinga has a serious problem in managing Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition leaders as well as candidates’ expectations. According to him, political zoning may help if candidates whose probability of winning is low are persuaded to support strong candidates who have a higher probability of winning.

“But such candidates who have deployed considerable resources so far will need a sweetener and a strong incentive to step down, support candidates who are likely to win and remain loyal to Azimio.”

It is against this backdrop that Raila is promising candidates who step down roles in an Azimio administration should he clinch the country’s coveted seat. He says Raila will have a blank Cheque save for the Cabinet when awarding candidates who have stepped down.

“He can create positions and reward such candidates in government positions if they qualify. Such positions include Principal Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries, advisors, ambassadors and high commissioners, parastatal board chairmen, parastatal board members and parastatal chief executive officers,” explains Mokua.

More promises

The analyst notes that Azimio constituent party leaders have expectations as well and that Raila is likely to have a bloated government.

“However, he has to pay attention to competence and capacity when rewarding politicians.”

In Gusii region, UDA, the Kenya Kwanza team has already promised to issue a nomination slot to one Okengo Nyambane who dropped his senatorial bid in favour of Joash Maangi, the current Kisii Deputy Governor. There is also the American-based businessman Chweya Matoke who dropped his governor bid in favor of Ezekiel Machogu. Matoke is the ANC party leader. Insiders say he was too promised a government appointment.

In 2017, President Kenyatta awarded the then Jubilee governor candidate Chris Obure with Chief Administrative Secretary appointment. Several Jubilee losers in the elections were also awarded parastatal jobs. In his last trip to Kisii, Ruto was requested to appoint a Cabinet Secretary from the region and in particular from the Bomachoge clan. 

Additional reporting by Eric Abuga, John Shilitsa and Olivia Odhiambo