Why new Cabinet line-up may take longer than expected
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have retained tight control over the on-going composition of a new Cabinet, with most of their close allies hinting that the new line-up is likely to assume office in January.
Unless Parliament is recalled for special sittings over the festive season, all indications point to the current team of cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries staying in office for much longer.
Parliament, which vets nominees to the Cabinet and the principal secretaries, is going on recess on Thursday for the long Christmas break.
Because of the political standoff between Jubilee and Nasa, Parliament has also not been able to form the relevant committees of the House that will vet the nominees.
Cabinet Secretaries are vetted by the Committee on Appointments, which is chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly, while PSs are vetted by respective departmental committees of Parliament.
“The President and his Deputy are not in a hurry to name a new Cabinet. They will do it when they are ready. What I can assure you is that when the announcement comes, the relevant parliamentary committees will be ready to vet and approve the list,” said Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen.
Sources familiar with the thinking and planning at State House intimated that the duo may opt to name the new CSs after Christmas, paving the way for vetting from January.
In such an event, the earliest that the new set of ministers would settle in office would be February.
“The President is not keen to ruin Christmas holiday for prospective candidates. Some may be aware they won’t be in Cabinet when the list is announced but the formal announcement will wait till January,” said a source.
It is the same situation with the principal secretaries, whose shortlisting, according to the chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Prof Margaret Kobia, has yet to start.
“We met this week but we did not finalise the shortlisting. The commission is of the view that interviews will be held next year to allow applicants and commissioners time off during the festive December month.
“All applicants and those shortlisted will be published in January 2018. The commission wishes all public servants Merry Christmas,” Prof Kobia said.
The PSC received applications from over 2,000 individuals, including former MPs, according to PSC.
Even with the reports that Mr Kenyatta is keen to sack at least 60 per cent of the CSs, they are all engaged in intense lobbying to keep their jobs, with some sending delegations and emissaries to appease the appointing authority.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of staff, Joseph Kinyua, last week instructed cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries to start preparing hand-over reports, including the financial status of their dockets, to facilitate smooth transition.
Cabinet Secretaries and their principal secretaries have been finalising their hand-over notes.
According to insiders, the President’s decision on the composition of the Cabinet will be guided by how various counties voted and the distribution of committee leadership among counties.
Members of Parliament have been lobbying for inclusion into various House committees.
Counties whose MPs will be appointed to chair various committees may miss out in the Cabinet slots.
Last week, Leaders of Majority in both Houses were busy putting together committee members, with the chairpersons’ names coming from State House.