Friday, April 19, 2024

Chief Administrative Secretaries: Was Uhuru rewarding 2017 election backers?

Chief Administrative Secretaries: Was Uhuru rewarding 2017 election backers?President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday created the position of Chief Administrative Secretary across all the 22 Cabinet posts.

He said holders of the new positions will be responsible for helping the cabinet secretaries coordinate the running of ministry affairs.

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The move has elicited mixed reactions with many arguing the post is not defined in the constitution, hence ‘a reward for loyalty’.

Observers said CAS, owing to the definition of their roles, will function as the assistant ministers of the old dispensation.

Uhuru nominated Ababu Namwamba as CAS Foreign Affairs, Rachael Shebesh (Public Service), Hussein Dado (Devolution), and Ken Obura (EAC).

Others are Winnie Guchu (Water), Chris Obure (Transport), Nelson Gaichuhie (National Treasury), Simon Kachapin (Education), and Patrick Ntutu (Interior).

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Andrew Tuimon was nominated to the Agriculture docket, Rashid Aman (Health), Gideon Mungaro (Lands), while Abdul Bahari was nominated to the Labour ministry.

The positions are yet to be filled in the Defence, ICT, and Tourism ministry.

The President, when he introduced the changes, said the posts were created in consultation with the public service commission in line with Article 132 (4) (a) of the Constitution.

It says the President may may establish an office in the public service in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Service Commission.

Prior to the promulgation of the Constitution on August 27, 2010, the position of assistant minister was scrapped.

Article 152 of the Constitution says the Cabinet consists of not fewer than fourteen and not more than 22 Cabinet Secretaries.

Critics argued that the posts will result into more strain on the already stretched state wage bill, saying this will still be passed on to the taxpayer.

Lawyer Donald Korir termed the new roles as “a stranger in the Constitution”.

“Chief Administrative Secretary is an office messenger between the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary .. CS is the minister with executive power & PS is the accounting officer … CAS, a stranger in the Constitution is a sexy name for public servant with no portfolio [sic],” he said via twitter.

Former presidential contender James Ole Kiyiapi said the newly created position is not recognised by the Constitution.

“…and is not clear at this point what value it adds to current hierarchy of administration in ministries. CS-CAS-PS…more bureaucracy?” he said.

Stephen Mutoro of Cofek said: “The CAS cannot give instructions to the PS as the latter is a State Officer like CS. But CAS will be a public officer. In that case its legal.”

Lawyer Daisy Amdany said: “No such position exists within the structure of cabinet such as Chief Administrative Secretary. As in the constitution is a suggestion to this administration. There’s a reason the numbers were locked, to avoid this madness.”

The sentiments were backed by Edwin Sifuna, a former Nairobi Senator contestant, who said: “In the structure of Cabinet the position of Chief Administrative Secretary does not exist. Its created just to absorb political rejects.”

Kahara Kubai, a twitter user, said: “President Uhuru Kenyatta we cannot spend years discussing the need for a lean and efficient government, only for us to end up with unwieldy and expensive one, with ambiguous positions.”

With 22 ministries and a nearly equal number of Permanent Secretaries, and now CASs, key officials in Uhuru’s administration stand at about 66 members.

Those who reacted to the development further raised the question of whether the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s work of slashing the public wage bill has gone to waste.

Other observers noted that the pattern could merely be a gimmick by Uhuru to reward political loyalists who campaigned for his reelection in August and later in October.

This was also said over appointments of former Meru governor Peter Munya who was named CS in charge of East Africa Community affairs.

Ababu, on the other hand, ditched Raila Odinga’s ODM party and supported Uhuru’s re-election even as he maintained he was solidly in the Labour Party of Kenya.

Shebesh was part of Jubilee’s formidable campaign team that worked under the leadership of Mike Sonko, now Nairobi governor, to deliver the Nairobi votes to Uhuru.

Dado, who won his seat on a Wiper ticket in 2013, ditched the NASA coalition in March 2017 for Jubilee.

Guchu served as Jubilee Party’s executive director and the party’s Deputy Chief Agent during last year’s elections.

Former Kisii Senator Chris Obure, who was nominated as Transport CAS, played a key role in marshaling votes for Uhuru in the Gusii region.

Apart from the CAS nominations, the nominated of Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju to the Cabinet as a secretary without a portfolio is also largely seen as reward to party loyalist.

Some names, although unlikely owing to the numbers in Parliament, may be rejected by MPs.

“I will continue to update you fellow Kenyans as we proceed with the normal process of forming government,” Uhuru said.

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