Lobbying in high gear as more State jobs up for grabs

President William Ruto poses for a photo with his Cabinet Secretaries at State House, Nairobi, after their inaugural meeting. [File, Standard]

President William Ruto will in the coming days make hundreds of appointments in military, security, ambassadorial and executive positions as he takes full charge of his administration.

The appointments range from Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs), chairmen of parastatals, ambassadors and head of missions, military heads to chancellors of universities.

A few months before he left office, former President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed about 200 to parastatal board directors. Uhuru also appointed 24 new ambassadors, high commissioners and heads of missions abroad.

Before Christmas last year, Ruto dropped 10 of Uhuru’s key appointees in State corporations.

The appointment of CASs is still in court. It is expected that once the court clears with it, Ruto will likely use the situation to placate his loyalists as well as those that could have played key roles in his political journey. CAS positions were created in the second term of former President Uhuru’s administration.

The Employment and Labour Court in October last year suspended plans to establish the office of CAS, pending determination of a petition filed by the Law Society of Kenya.

The suspension by Justice Monica Mbaru came a day after the Public Service Commission (PSC) had invited applications for the position that should have ran up to October 27. PSC had sought views on the creation of the CAS position as requested by the President.

LSK had claimed in the petition that plans to establish the office of CAS is likely to cause financial strain to Kenyans as they will be forced to cater for extra wages for jobs that can be done by an already established office of the Principal Secretary. Sources within Ruto’s circles indicate that there’s a long list of loyalists keen to find themselves among the more than 40 CASs to be picked should the courts okay the position.

High stakes

“Where we are now, there’s serious lobbying. The stakes are really high. No one is really sure how the president will go about it. What I can tell you now is that many Ruto allies are doing everything possible to raise their chances of landing a plum job, “ said a source who requested for anonymity. “No one knows the hour nor the day when the changes will be announced.” 

Apart from the CASs seats, the position of the Director General of Intelligence (NIS) held by Philip Kameru who was first sworn in September 2014 and still has two years to retire, could be up for grabs. In the first month of his presidency, Ruto’s priority was to oversee changes in the security docket which saw the appointment of Japheth Koome as the Inspector General taking over from Hilary Mutyambai and Mohamed Amin as the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) taking over from George Kinoti.

Changes at the NIS and the military where Lt-Gen Francis Ogolla, the Vice Chief of the Defence Forces is likely to retire, could come in a few months.

President Kenyatta appointed Lt-Gen Ogolla as Vice Chief of the Defence Forces last year and he is expected to retire in 2023 under the rules introduced by former Chief of General Staff Gen Daudi Tonje - adopted and known as the Tonje Rules. Key among the appointments are those of 56 ambassadors, high commissioners, head of missions and consulates. Traditionally, a new president would recall some heads of missions and replace them with his own men and women as he seeks to secure his foreign policy.

Uhuru’s appointment of 24 ambassadors and high commissioners as heads of missions of included ambassadors who now serve as deputy heads of missions and four officials to the post of consul-general. he also picked an ambassador and special envoy for the Maritime and Blue Economy and promoted six senior Foreign Service Officers to the rank of ambassador.

Those picked included former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru as consul general of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tomas Kwaka Omolo, alias Big Ted as consul-general Los Angeles, and former ICT PS Bitange Ndemo as ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Others were former Nyeri deputy governor Caroline Karugu to Denmark, former National Assembly clerk Michael Sialai to Namibia and former Nominated MP Amina Abdalla to Sultanate of Oman. Ruto has in the recent past indicated that he has turned to the West in his foreign policy and the appointments in the High Commission in the United Kingdom, the embassies of United States (US), Canada, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany among others will be of interest to the president.

Other embassies that will be of interest are those in India, Pakistan, China, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Somali and DRC and Permanent Missions like United Nations in New York, Geneva, Switzerland and UNESCO in Paris France.

Defence Cabinet secretary Aden Duale said the appointment of ambassadors was the prerogative of the president. Majority leader Kani Ichung’wah said: “Parliament has not changed any law to give security of tenure to ambassadorial positions. The president can appoint, recall any ambassador or high commissioner at will.”

Board chairs

Also critical in running his government is the appointment of the board chairs for government parastatals.

There are 247 parastatals that sprawl across all the ministries, 46 of which operate as commercial companies seeking profits and 201 as social corporations. The president has powers to make changes on all the board chairs and Ruto has already made changes in six key ones.

Alongside that, the President will be expected to influence the replacement of a majority of parastatal CEOs whose contracts run up to 2024. Late last year, Ruto made changes in major corporations including the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Ruto, in a Gazette notice dated December 23, appointed former Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau to chair the NHIF board of directors replacing former Kabete MP Lewis Nguyai. While former Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi was moved from NSSF Board of Trustees to the National Council for Population and Development Board. He also appointed Lt Gen (Rtd) Walter Rarira Koipation as the chairperson of KWS board for three years. Koipaton replaces Gen (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana while Faith Boinett took over at KPC  from Rita Okuthe whose appointment was revoked. Earlier, through the National Treasury, the chair of KPLC Vivienne Yeda was edged out and replaced with Joy Brenda Masinde and Kenya Revenue Authority where Antony Mwaura was picked to replace Ambassador Francis Muthaura. Other state corporations that will be on Ruto’s sight given their influence includes Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Geothermal Development Company (GDC), Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco), National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) Rural Electrification Authority (REA).

In the transport and infrastructure sector, key appointments will be in Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA), Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Ferry Services, Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya National Shipping Line and Kenya Railways Corporation. Other critical parastatals in the transport are Kenya Roads Board, Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA),  Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURRA), the LAPSET Corridor Development Authority and National Transport & Safety Authority.

At the Treasury, the main corporations are Privatization Commission, National Bank of Kenya, Kenya Investment Authority,  Insurance Regulatory Authority, Public Procurement Oversight Authority, Capital Market Authority, Retirements Benefit Authority and Deposit Protection Fund In the financial institutions, changes in National Bank of Kenya and Consolidated Bank of Kenya will be in the offing. Some of the positions coming up for appointments within a year are those of KPC boss Macharia Irungu’s, NHIF boss Peter Kamunyo, GDC’s Jared Othieno and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge.

Changes are also in the pipeline at Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Kenya National Highways Authority.

In the health sector, changes could take place in Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, National AIDS Control Council and the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.

Among the appointments to be made include picking the chancellors of 37 public universities.

Political analyst Herman Manyora said Ruto will likely reward more of his allies. “We now know the president’s trend. You will expect notable persons. What I know is that many names will come from the politically marginalised areas like Nyanza,” said Prof Manyora.

Analyst Dismas Mokua said: “Ruto has indicated that he pays for loyalty and therefore if he promised someone a job, they should sleep sound knowing that he has indicated that he keeps his word.”