Tough balancing act as Uhuru plans his Cabinet

Jubilee Party politicians and National Super Alliance (NASA) defectors in Western region are angling to be in the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government after his swearing in on Tuesday.

President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto will have a daunting task of picking the Cabinet as they seek to heal a deeply divided country after divisive presidential elections.

With the burden of leaving a legacy in his final term, President Kenyatta whose swearing-in comes after the Supreme Court upheld his October 26 election, will need Solomonic wisdom to form the government.

Caught between rewarding loyalists, appeasing his political strongholds for their support and reaching out to regions that did not vote for him, it will be a delicate balancing act to calm or set unease in Kenyatta’s final term.

Western region overwhelmingly voted for NASA leader Raila Odinga in the August 8 presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court and a majority of residents heeded his call to boycott the repeat election.

It will therefore be interesting to see how Kenyatta will navigate the government appointments as he tries to appease the region, following calls by some leaders for secession, claiming that the Jubilee administration has neglected them.

His political matrix will be compounded by Ruto’s hand as he seeks to use the government formation to his advantage in the 2022 politics. The DP has made it clear that he will not leave anything to chance in his quest to be Kenya’s fifth president.

President Kenyatta will possibly be looking at Cabinet Secretaries who will carry his political message by ensuring that they hold grip on their regions.

In the Western region, there are names being dropped as possible beneficiaries of government appointments.

It is not clear if Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugine Wamalwa and his Environment and Natural Resources counterpart Judi Wakhungu will be retained in the Cabinet as Kenyatta seeks to woo the region that gave him significant votes in the October 26 repeat poll.

Other names that have been mentioned are those of former MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i), Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), Mary Emase (Teso South), Arthur Odera (Teso North).

Others believed to be eyeing State jobs are Immigration Director General Maj Rtd Gordon Kihalangwa, former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga, Kenya Power Board Chairman Kenneth Marende, political seat losers Chris Kikechi, Kakai Bissau, Lucas Meso, David Were, Sammy Itemere, John Chikati and Evans Kakai.

It is not clear if President Kenyatta and his deputy will decide to reward Jubilee members who lost in the August 8 polls or go for professionals from the Luhya community.

If the Jubilee duo decides to go for the reward of the Jubilee political actors, they will be torn between who to pick, as they seek to appease the region that predominantly supports Raila.

Observers argued that although the choice was the President’s prerogative, he and his deputy might consider people who could help bring Ruto votes in 2022.

Between 2013 and 2017, Ruto visited Western region over 50 times, much more than any other region and he has insisted that he is keen to bag the bloc that has about two million votes.

Namwamba, who was once deeply opposed to Jubilee administration, has been recently very vocal and moving round campaigning for the ruling party.

It is expected for instance that there will be a rift between the two Busia politicians, Namwamba and Otuoma, if one of them is picked and the other is left out.

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