President Uhuru Kenyatta dramatically expanded his government, fired seven Cabinet Secretaries and rewarded a host of poll losers and loyalists in what appears to have been a tortured balancing act.
After 58 days of waiting and lobbying, President Kenyatta emerged to announced that he had fired seven CS who will now serve as Ambassadors and High Commissioners. But he still left many positions vacant, testimony to the protracted process that went on behind the scenes.
Moreover, the President’s nominations still fell short of the Constitutional one-third gender requirement, with only six out of the 22 Cabinet Secretaries being women.
Apart from a few surprise nominees, what stood out most is his announcement that he was creating a new position of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in all ministries “responsible for helping CSs to better coordinate the affairs of their respective ministries”.
Pundits quickly read an attempt to accommodate the many competing political and ethnic interests and election promises, and the return of the Assistant Minister.
Indeed a few of the nominees to the CAS are election losers.
Their role in relation to the Principal Secretaries in the ministry was not explained.
Yet again, Deputy President William Ruto was missing from Uhuru’s side as he unveiled the cabinet line-up, although he was present in State House.
Among the newcomers in Uhuru’s second Cabinet are former Meru Governor Peter Munya, Royal Media Services Chief Operating Officer Farida Karoney and Public Service Commission Chair Margaret Kobia.
Others are former ODM Youth leader Rashid Mohamed Achesa, Jubilee Senate Aspirant for Baringo Simon Chelugui, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju.
Munya will be the new CS for East African Community and Northern Corridor Development, while Karoney takes over at Lands from Prof Jacob Kaimenyi.
Kobia heads to the Public Service Gender and Youth Affairs, previously headed by Sicily Kariuki, who was retained.
Chelugui takes over the Water and Sanitation Ministry while Juma becomes the new boss at Foreign Affairs and International Trade where she was PS.
But it is the nomination of Mohammed, a close Raila-turned-Ruto ally, as the Sports and Heritage minister, that was the talk of the town.
Questions immediately emerged regarding his academic qualifications with several people, including some from his hometown of Mumias saying they only remember him going to Shibale Primary and later a nearby secondary school.
“I do not know about his academic qualification and I suggest you ask the National Intelligence Service. All I can do is wish Rashid well and hope he will be able to serve Kenyans should Parliament approve his name,” said his next-door neighbour Bishop Salala Okumu, the former ACK Bishop.
Although Jubilee’s chief Whip Benjamin Washiali who also comes from Mumias claimed that Rashid had a degree, he could neither name the university he went nor the field in which the Cabinet nominee trained.
“I do not know where he went to school. I remember him telling me long ago is that he attending evening classes but I did not bother to ask many questions,” said Washiali.
When asked, yesterday Achesa quickly disconnected the phone and promised to call back but did not return calls and text messages from the Star by the time of going to press.
In the new line-up politicians who lost mostly in NASA bastions for supporting Uhuru reaped big.
Among them are former Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, former Kilifi North MP Gideon Mungaro and former Kisii Senator Chris Obure.
Ababu was nominated CAS in the ministry of Foreign Affairs while Mungaro and Obure will serve in the lands and transport ministries respectively.
Former Narok Senator Patrick Ntutu will serve in a similar position in the ministry of Interior, the immediate former Nairobi Women Representative Rachel Shebesh in the ministry of Youth and Gender and former Tana River Governor Hussein Dado in Devolution.
Also handed the CAS in the Ministry of Water is Jubilee CEO Winnie Guchu.
A key Uhuru ally of Uhuru, she resigned as a Commissioner in the Judicial Service Commission to join the Jubilee secretariat months to the August 8 polls where she was the deputy chief agent for the President in the August Presidential election
In the new appointments, Uhuru also rewarded loyal civil servants who have faithfully served his administration.
Among them is Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa who has been nominated as Devolution PS and Kenyan envoy to the United Nations, Macharia Kamau, who was nominated as the Foreign Affairs PS.
Marwa has waged a vicious battle at the Coast against Raila allies, key among them Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho.
Macharia was instrumental in the handling of the twin Kenyan ICC cases which have since been terminated.
But in what appeared as a shocker to many, former Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko who resigned three weeks ago to take up a cabinet job was given the Environment and Forestry docket.
There have been speculations that Uhuru wanted to get rid of Tobiko from the powerful and independent position of DPP to give him a free hand to nominate an individual that could do the executive biding.
But others argued that his nomination was to secure him from the fights he had been embroiled in with the investigative agencies over prosecutions.
The ministry of environment is seen as less prominent.
Former Senator John Munyes who hails from the oil-rich Turkana county was however handed the Petroleum and Mining ministry.
Four CS — Cecily Kariuki, Amina Mohamed, Eugene Wamalwa and Mwangi Kiunjuri — were however shuffled and given new ministries.
Kariuki who was in charge of Public Service was moved to Health while Amina who was in charge of Foreign Affairs was moved to Education.
Eugene who was the Water CS replaces Kiunjuri as Devolution and Arid and Semi Arid Lands minister while Kiunjuri heads to the Agriculture ministry.
Overall, four CS retained their previous dockets. They are Adan Mohammed of Industrialisation, Najib Balala of Tourism, James Macharia of Transport and Joseph Mucheru of ICT.
Fred Matiangi had earlier been confirmed as the substantive Interior CS.
But in a grand house cleaning, Uhuru kicked out seven CS.
These are Environment CS Judy Wakhungu, her health counterpart Cleopha Mailu, Dan Kazungu of Mining, Phylis Kandia of Labour and Willy Bett of Agriculture.
Wakhungu will now be the new Kenyan ambassador to France, Kandie heads to Belgium while Kazungu will be the new Kenyan High Commissioner to Tanzania.
Bett has been posted to India while Mailu will be the new Kenyan envoy to the United Nations in Geneva.
The Principal Secretary for Public Service and Youth will be Lilian Omolo while Safina Kwekwe takes charge at Gender will be.
Other PS’s are Andrew Kamau Ng’ang’a (ministry of Petroleum), Michael Powon (ASAL), Torome Saitoti (Defence), Chris Kiptoo (International Trade), Charles Sunkuli (Environment).