William Ruto's balancing act in crafting his Cabinet

He is also expected to appoint Principal Secretaries albeit through the Public Service Commission (PSC), pick a new head of the PSC, appoint top State House officials, senior public servants, ambassadors, chairmen of state corporations and police bosses, among others.

Yesterday the PSC advertised the positions of PSs. In a special gazette notice the commission said applications should must be submitted by September 20.

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi said Dr Ruto's election was on the promise of revamping the economy with a special interest in agriculture, and revamping of small and medium enterprises in his much-hyped bottom-up economic model.

"Clearly, one can see the direction of his administration will be to uplift farmers and business people, create jobs and bring back hope for those who had given up," he said.

The new government will also strengthen institutions and depoliticise of the civil service.

"The incoming government will be owned by Kenyans and it will have the common mwananchi at the heart of its operations. Based on his previous performance, the country can only expect the best," said the former Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Mudavadi, the Prime Cabinet Secretary-designate, and Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula, who is eyeing the National Assembly Speaker seat, have their positions anchored in the Kenya Kwanza agreement.

Prominent faces

Others expected to get top positions include former governors Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos), who shifted camp from Azimio la Umoja, former Turkana governor Josphat Nanok, who was the chief campaign manager for Dr Ruto and Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua.

The outgoing National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi, former Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, former CAS Ababu Namwamba and former Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa were also prominent in Kenya Kwanza campaigns.

Prof Edward Kisiangani, a UDA insider, said they have not started allocating positions, saying that would be recipe for failure. "In crafting a Cabinet that works, you start with a plan. What is it that you want to execute? For us, we have the bottom-up economic model. That is what will inform the people who will serve as Cabinet Secretaries. After the plan, we have drawn a structure informed by service delivery. In this strucuture, mediocrity will be sieved effortlessly. You cannot appoint someone simply because he or she is your friend," he said.

Lower expectations

With the structure in place, he said, names should be coming in as soon as the weekend.

But Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang'ula may have to lower their expectations. The Kenya Kwanza memorandum had stated the two leaders and their parties will get 30 per cent of government positions.

"The leaders will have to lower their expectations. Ruto is a gentleman and he will give them the seats he promised them. But on Cabinet slots how do you give Western seven seats when they failed to deliver and you have a whole country to consider?" said Prof Kisiangani.

He said the memorandum will be renegotiated in a way that will not breed apathy or conflict. The university don also said they were relooking at the position of Cabinet Administrative Secretary to align it with the law and the PSC.

At the end of the day, he said, it is a delicate balancing act that should see service delivery prioritised, loyalties and effort rewarded.

Should the President-elect appoint his allies he will have paid political debts and created a vibrant space to launch his re-election bid five years later, but could compromise service delivery. However, should he decide to go for professionals, he can pick from a long list of technocrats who worked with his campaign team including economist David Ndii and former Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung'u.

Others are Prof Raphael Munavu, Chairman of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences as well as chairman of the Council of South Eastern University College, former ambassador to Pakistan Prof Julius Bitok, Commission on Revenue Allocation commissioner Dr Irene Asienga and former Raila adviser Eliud Owalo.

The technocrats were pivotal in creation of charters, including those for youth, women, PWDs, counties and education, and the national charter.

The President-elect may need a blend of politicians and technocrats in his Cabinet to drive his bottom-up economic model.

Cabinet of technocrats

In the 2013 Jubilee government, Dr Ruto and President Kenyatta gave most of the slots to technocrats. Out of the 23 CSs, only Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu, Kazungu Kambi and Charles Keter were career politicians.

Besides, the new President must also pick a Cabinet that reflects the face of Kenya.

In its first term, Jubilee faced backlash for appointing eight CSs from the Gema and Kalenjin communities. During campaigns, Dr Ruto also promised to appoint half of his Cabinet as women. That would mean at least 12 women.