By Standard on Sunday Team
NAIROBI, KENYA: Losers in the March 4 General Election angling for Cabinet positions will be in for a rude shock when President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto unveil their list early this week.
According to knowledgeable sources close to the two leaders, the Cabinet will entirely exclude politicians who vied for various seats and lost in the last General Election.
Kericho Senator Charles Keter, a close ally of Deputy President Ruto, on Saturday confirmed he was aware of plans to leave out political losers in the Cabinet line-up.
“The two leaders have made it clear that they are not creating employment for election losers but putting up a lean, competent and robust team that will ensure that the Government delivers on its pledges. Election losers expecting appointments will be in for a shock,” said Keter in an exclusive interview in Naivasha where Senators were having an induction programme.
On Wednesday Uhuru announced a list of restructured ministries but did not disclose the names of Cabinet Secretaries.
On his part, Deputy President William Ruto said the Cabinet would contain “men and women of integrity”. Ruto was speaking at the Winners Chapel in Nairobi during a dedication service.
Well-informed sources informed us that when names of probable appointees were presented to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) earlier in the week for final vetting, at least five nominees were disqualified from inclusion in the final list on grounds of integrity.
One of the reasons behind the move to omit political losers in the Cabinet is to prevent a possible bottleneck in the National Assembly where members may decide not to approve the Cabinet if doing so means giving a new lease of life to their political opponents.
The other reason, sources say, was to avoid creating bad blood by picking some politicians and leaving out others.
“It has been one of the most agonising issues whether to include or not to include election losers as Cabinet Secretaries. If you decide to include, whom do you include and whom do you leave out and why? Anyway, finally the two (Uhuru and Ruto) decided the best way out of this quagmire is to exclude them all together,” explained our source, who does not wish to be quoted discussing confidential Government business.
Appointments to boards
The source said the politicians will be ‘rewarded’ in other ways such as appointment to parastatal boards and ambassadorial positions, among other public posts (see related story). President Uhuru and his Deputy Ruto are expected to unwrap an 18-member government line-up early this week. Sources familiar with the government crafting process say that although there will be 18 Cabinet Secretaries (previously known as Ministers), there will be close to 40 Principal Secretaries (previously known as Permanent Secretaries) because each key department under the amalgamated ministries will have its own principal secretary.
The law caps ministries at 22, hence the maximum number of Cabinet secretaries is 22, but it is silent on the number of principal secretaries. Nevertheless, President Uhuru and his Deputy have a hard task sharing out the positions to the avalanche of those silently but vigorously lobbying for the positions.
“To cater for the diverse political interests, the President and his Deputy will have to find a way of performing a political miracle similar to the one Jesus did when he fed a multitude 5,000 people using just five loaves of bread and two fish,” is how the source sees the political tight rope Uhuru and Ruto are walking in the business of crafting a Cabinet.
Politicians such as Charity Ngilu, Samuel Poghisio, Jebii Kilimo, Amos Kimunya, Kiema Kilonzo, Najib Balala, Ali Mwakwere, Dr Kilemi Mwiria, Danson Mungatana, Prof Sam Ongeri, Njeru Githae and Joshua Kutuny, who stood and lost are likely to be the most affected by the decision to exclude political losers.
Many politicians who stood on Jubilee tickets and lost have been campaigning vigorously behind the scenes to be given a new lease of life through appointment to the Cabinet. Some politicians had even gone to the extent of seeking the support of influential personalities around Uhuru and Ruto such as Mama Ngina Kenyatta in the hope that this will boost their chances of appointment. Our sources further disclosed that the Uhuru and Ruto had struck a formula on which to base the appointment of Cabinet and Principal Secretaries.
“They will use the Zebra formula where if the Cabinet Secretary is aligned to TNA, then the Principal Secretary will have to be someone from the URP line-up,” explained our source.
Jubilee used the same formula to clinch top positions in the National Assembly and Senate. Standard