NAIROBI – President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to name the new Cabinet in January 2018, according to credible Government sources.
Ruling coalition insiders said President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto were not keen to announce the new Cabinet secretaries until after the festive season.
Two senior Jubilee Party figures separately explained that although Uhuru and Ruto had consulted widely over the matter, and even picked their nominees for various dockets, they had opted to allow their current team to remain in office until the turn of the year.
“The appointments will be announced in January. The President knows who is to be in his new Cabinet, but in his own discretion, has decided to hold on until January,” said one top official who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Another source suggested the President was awaiting a comprehensive report on background checks of the Cabinet nominees by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). By virtue of their positions, CSs come into contact with classified State secrets.
Those who hold the office should, therefore, be cleared by the NIS. They should also be persons of unquestionable integrity. EACC clearance is especially critical following the experience with the ‘list of shame’ that saw five CSs forced to step aside during Uhuru’s first term following graft claims.
There are also suggestions that the final list is yet to be arrived at given backroom deals including with parties like Kanu that backed Uhuru’s re-election and other figures who played a critical role in his presidential campaigns.
Some of the lobbying is playing out publicly such as the latest statement by the Njuri Ncheke Council of Elders disputing claims they had written to the President asking him not to reappoint Lands Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi or pick former Meru Governor Peter Munya.
The council’s Chairman Paul M’Ithinkia and Secretary General Phares Ruteere convened a press conference in Meru town on Friday to denounce the letter circulating on social media which they dismissed as fabricated by “enemies of Mr Kaimenyi and Mr Munya”.
Last week when Parliament broke for a long recess until mid-February, there was speculation that Uhuru could name his Cabinet secretaries during the holiday season given a change of rules that anticipate the President submitting the names when MPs were away.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale moved a procedural motion to shelve the requirement of the Speaker to summon a special sitting of the House to communicate to members the Cabinet appointments. The House Standing Orders require that when the President communicates such appointments, the Speaker has to notify the House before referring the list of nominees to the relevant committee for vetting.
But the new changes mean that Speaker Justin Muturi will just commit the names of the appointees to the committee directly without having to recall the House, in the event that Uhuru names the cabinet during the recess period.
Yesterday, Duale, however, downplayed the significance of his move.
“We just wanted to be tidy. We wanted to give the Speaker the authority to proceed and send the names to the committee, just in case appointment of Cabinet Secretaries and the Attorney General happens when we are away,” said Duale.
He said it would not have made sense for the Speaker to recall MPs from their recess merely to communicate to them the appointments, refer the names to the committee on appointments and then adjourn the House.
The Committee on Appointments, which vets Cabinet secretaries, only has membership from Jubilee Party after the National Super Alliance (NASA) refused to appoint their representatives. National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi wrote to the Speaker citing the political standoff over the presidential poll for the Opposition’s reluctance to sit on the committee.