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Uhuru Kenyatta's last cabinet and unfinished business as exit nears

President Uhuru Kenyatta when he convened a full Cabinet Meeting during which several matters of national and international importance were discussed. [PSCU, Standard].

In slightly over a month, President Uhuru Kenyatta will call it a day at State House, closing the door on a decade in office that has had marked success as well as unfinished business.

As it is, Uhuru’s government is already packing up. And as Uhuru thinks of his days out of power, so are some Cabinet Secretaries part of his administration looking at theirs, some with a mix of foreboding and eagerness.

Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiang’i still has a little left to do with the Transition Committee. His ministry also plays a crucial role in the upcoming election and the period after.

Appointed in 2013, he is among those who stayed in cabinet, albeit moving from one docket to another, for the duration of Uhuru’s time in office. Only five have lasted from beginning to the end.

They are Amina Mohammed (Sports), Najib Balala (Tourism), Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs) and James Macharia (Transport).

But even as Uhuru’s tenure draws to an end, some CSs who worked under him are hoping to be accommodated in the next government should a favourable candidate take office.

The gloves have been off for sometime for some of the cabinet members who joined as political newbies but have fast become stalwarts.

Some of those currently serving in the cabinet such as Agriculture CS Peter Munya already have their future placement guaranteed should Azimio la Umoja win on August 9.

Mr Munya is among the few cabinet members Raila Odinga proposed when he unveiled his running mate Martha Karua at KICC.

The former Meru governor flirted with the idea of running to reclaim the seat he lost in 2017 to Kiraitu Murungi. However, he was prevailed upon to drop his ambition and was in serious contention to be the Azimio la Umoja running mate.

Mr Munya’s name has been in the president’s mouth recently, receiving praise for turning around the agriculture sector.

Since it became apparent that Uhuru favoured Raila to take over from him, Mr Munya and a number of CSs have been communicating the government policy to the public almost as much as they have been campaigning for the ODM party leader.

Besides Mr Munya, there is Dr Matiang’i as well as Eugene Wamalwa (Defence), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).

Dr Matiang’i and Mr Mucheru are members of the multi-agency forum tasked with planning the elections. Their involvement in campaigns has understandably caused jitters in the Kenya Kwanza Coalition.

The cabinet met in May this year after going for more than a year without meeting.

Some of the resolutions of the meeting touched on the approvals of payment of pending bills by the National Youth Service (NYS), review of VAT and Certificate of Requirements on tea and coffee for both domestic and international markets, approval of the policy on large scale commercialization of public land held for agricultural production, and implementation of the fuel price stabilisation programme.

Other resolutions included approval of the application by Laikipia County Government to raise Sh1.16 billion through a domestic Infrastructure Bond, as well as approval of the sale/lease of the residential houses and commercial facilities developed under the Mavoko Sustainable Neighbourhood Housing Programme Scheme.

The Ministry of Water was directed to fast-track the construction of various ongoing dams, water pans and reservoirs so as to enhance the coverage of land under irrigation.

Yet while the direction was being given, there were fewer members in the cabinet, the CS for water among them. In the absence of cabinet meetings, the ministers have been attending cabinet sub-committee routine meetings chaired by Interior and Coordination CS Fred Matiang’i every Tuesday to deliberate on government business.

Uhuru’s cabinet has been hit with resignations in 2022 as CSs Sicily Kariuki (water), John Munyes (mining), Adan Mohammed (EAC) and Charles Keter (devolution) resigned to try their hand at politics.

Mr Keter resigned to vie for Kericho governor while Ms Kariuki was eyeing Nyandarua, Mr Mohammed Mandera and Mr Munyes Turkana. Of the four, Mr Mohamed and Mr Munyes remain in the race after winning the Jubilee Party ticket.

After the four departures, Uhuru opted not to replace them, instead naming other CSs in acting capacity.

While Eugene Wamalwa is acting in the devolution docket, Transport CS James Macharia was appointed to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.

Energy CS Monica Juma is also serving as the CS in charge of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining headed by Mr Munyes.  Industrialisation and Trade CS Betty Maina has taken over operations at the Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development following the exit of Mr Mohammed.

President Kenyatta prevented further exits from the cabinet after talk of more CSs exiting, among them Treasury’s Ukur Yattani. Others who were on their way out were Mr Munya, Mr Macharia, Dr Matiangi, Mr Kagwe and Environment CS Keriako Tobiko.

Among those who, like Mr Munya, hope to get a soft landing is Mr Yatani. He was appointed through a reshuffle that saw Henry Rotich edged out after he was accused of graft.

He will count among his achievements the increase in revenue collected by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which announced yesterday that it had collected more than Sh2 trillion.

KRA collected Sh2.031 trillion in revenues in the financial year to June 31, 2022, it said yesterday. Even as the term comes to an end, the government still has a lot left on its to-do list.

Questions still linger over those who are campaigning for Mr Odinga and what is in it for them. Mr Odinga is running on a platform of continuity - going forward with some of President Uhuru’s policies but introducing his own.

It is expected that should he win, Mr Odinga will want to have a government forged of his own identity and ideology.