Surprise package in Jubilee Cabinet hunt
With 72 hours to the unveiling of the Jubilee cabinet, the final list of 22 men and women to serve in the first government under the new Constitution is taking shape though still not yet crystal clear. Out of multiple names that had been bandied around days after Uhuru Kenyatta was named the winner of the March 4 presidential election, some that burned with ambitions have fallen on the way-side as assorted interests; political, family, corporate came into play.
Uhuru’s residence next to State House and that of his Deputy William Ruto along Koitobos Road in Karen have been a beehive of activity with names being proposed and others discarded. The list of probable appointees as cabinet and principle secretaries has been changing almost by hour, thanks to the incessant lobbying and the constantly shifting policy position.
At one moment, says a source familiar with the process “the prevailing position would be to include election losers in the cabinet, a moment later the policy changes and all sudden it becomes okay to include election losers in the cabinet.”
Also to dictate the process of sieving the chosen few, are factors such as immense push by some heavyweight ‘political financiers’ to be part of the team, with performance here emerging the natural barometer.
While under their pre-election coalition, TNA and URP had agreed to share the government on a 50-50 basis; national interests have been factored in, with the 22 slots spread over the eight provinces.
Assumption to the Office of the President Committee presented the Jubilee team a government structure of 21 ministries. They however have the latitude to create one more ministry.
According to the committee’s list, the Ministry of Internal Security and Defense are merged into the National Security while Agriculture brings together five other ministries to be the single largest portfolio.
It will include Agriculture, Water and Irrigation, Livestock, Co-operatives and Fisheries, while Industrialisation, Regional Development and Trade will fall under Ministry of Trade. Others are Finance and Planning, which will be merged. Home Affairs will be accommodated under the Deputy President’s docket.
Roads, Housing and Public Works will be merged to create one ministry. There will a Ministry of Devolution and County Governments that will incorporate Local Government, Nairobi Metropolitan and Northern Kenya. The ministries of Energy, Education, Health, Justice, Tourism, Transport and Information and Communication will retain their current identity.
At the president-elect’s home, main players have been Nancy Gitau, his younger brother Muhoho Kenyatta, uncle George Muhoho, and former Gatanga MP David Murathe helping craft the new team. Equally powerful is Uhuru’s mother Mama Ngina. The Standard on Sunday established that former minister Najib Balala sought Mama Ngina’s support to clinch Tourism docket.
Ruto is reported to have asked elected leaders on his party’s ticket who wanted to resign and so that they can get cabinet appointments to hold their horses. “In our meeting with the deputy president on Thursday, he showed his reluctance for those who wanted to resign and pointed out that money that would have been used in by-elections should be utilised to help them implement their pledges,” one of the Rift Valley MPs who attended the The Standard On Sunday.
Kericho County Senator Charles Keter and Eldama-Ravine MP Moses Lessonet who have been touted as possible cabinet secretaries may not quit their elective positions given the reluctance of Ruto take any action that will lead to by-elections in the Rift Valley. Its expected that Uhuru could also prevail upon elected leaders in TNA to avoid resigning, as the Jubilee team wants to concentrate on development instead of being drawn back to by-election campaigns.
Those in the line for appointment in Ruto’s wing of the coalition are former Interim Independent Electoral Commission Commissioner Davis Chirchir, from the South Rift region.
New faces in one of the line-ups include Constituency Development Fund Coordination Board director David Koross, Former Airtel Kenya Network Director John Barorot and Agricultural Finance Corporation Deputy Chairman Joshua Choge.
Kenya National Union of Teachers national chairman Wilson Sossion and former Assistant Minister James Koskei are also among those touted to be in the list of the chosen few.
Among those said to have been earmarked for cabinet appointment on Uhuru’s side include Nancy Gitau, a State House operative who was the CEO of Uhuru’s presidential campaigns.
Others include Machel Waikenda, who led the TNA youth presidential campaigns and Winnie Guchu, a former Commissioner with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission.
Among women reported to be angling for appointments into the cabinet include Deputy Head of Mission to Somali, Ambassador Yvonne Khamati and business-lady Esther Passaris.
TNA Secretary General Onyango Oloo is set to become either government spokesman or press secretary based at State House while TNA lawyer, Jasper Mbiuki may become be Uhuru’s legal advisor based at the State House.
A new name that has cropped up for likely appointment as State House Comptroller is that of former PS Ali Korane.
Korane, who was TNA’s point man in North Eastern Region, is a long-serving administrator having worked as a District Commissioner in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nyeri.
Those rooting for him say his appointment would send a message of diversity while catering for minority groups, the Moslems and North Eastern Region.
Sources further indicated that a former head of Nascop, Dr Ibrahim Mohamed, may be headed to the ministry of Health. But there is also talk of Nicholas Muraguri, a senior UN official, being a likely appointee to the head the Health docket.
Muraguri heads UN’s continental initiative to eradicate mother-to-child HIV infections. Like Mohamed, Muraguri has also worked at Nascop.