Headache: Ruto Faces CAS Dilemma as List Lands on His Desk
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is this week expected to hand over to President William Ruto a list of successful candidates for the position of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), with the Head of State to determine the number and the ministries they will be placed in.
This has thrown key Kenya Kwanza Alliance politicians and August 2022 poll losers into yet another round of lobbying, especially with President Ruto having a free hand to determine the total number of the CASs he will take, which could mean the PSC list will be longer than the 22, the total number of ministries the Constitution sets.
The PSC concluded interviews for the CAS jobs on Tuesday after shortlisting 242 out of 5,183 applicants. One faction is said to be pushing for numbers not to go beyond 22, with 10 slots for men and 12 for women, but another faction wants the number to go as high as 35. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta had 29 CASs, with some ministries like Health, Transport, Education and Agriculture having two each.
Five former legislators who spoke to Nation yesterday painted a picture of the goings on, with applicants from Mt Kenya lobbying through Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua while those from the Rift Valley banking on their closeness with the Head of State to land the jobs.
“The DP is using his position just to push for individuals from his region and a few outside his region because he is also building his own political base … some of us sacrificed our own political ambitions for this government to be formed,” said a former legislator from Rift Valley.
Mr Gachagua last month likened the Ruto government to a company guaranteed by shares, in which preference will be given to people who voted for the President when dishing out state jobs.
Former Soy MP Caleb Kositany is said to be lobbying for CAS Interior while former Kipkelion East MP Joseph Limo, who once served as chairperson of the Finance Committee in the National Assembly, is eyeing the National Treasury.
Former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, who was added to the amended shortlist, has set his eyes on the Agriculture docket while former nominated Senator Millicent Omanga is lobbying for Health. Former Kenyan National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion hopes to land the Education docket.
Based on the 30 per cent of government positions agreement between Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, ANC Secretary-General Simon Kamau Gikuru is also lobbying for the CAS post.
Another headache for Dr Ruto is that some of his allies come from the same county.
After resolving Kakamega’s headache of choosing between Mr Washiali and Mr Cleophas Malala, a similar situation is also facing Dr Ruto in Nakuru between former Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri and former nominated MP Gideon Keter.
President Ruto’s digital strategist Dennis Itumbi hails from Kirinyaga as does former County Woman Representative Purity Ngirici. It had emerged that Ms Ngirici had been implored to withdraw her case against Governor Anne Waiguru in exchange for a state job. Mr Itumbi, on the other hand, played an integral role in the formation of the Kenya Kwanza administration.
In Nairobi, President Ruto will have a hard time choosing among Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Ms Omanga, and former Starehe lawmakers Charles Njagua and Simon Mbugua.
In Kisii, President Ruto will have to decide between former governor James Ongwae — who joined him after elections — and Mr Joash Maangi, who defected to Azimio and went back to UDA.
In West Pokot, Dr Ruto is also faced with the complex situation of choosing between former Woman Representative Lilian Tomitom and former Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol.
A similar situation is also awaiting the Head of State in Bomet between former Senator Christopher Lang’at and Mr Sossion as well as in Nandi between the sons of Moi-era minister Henry Kosgey; Alex and Allan. Others also in the same county are former legislators Cornelly Serem and Wilson Kogo.
Another county posing a headache for President Ruto is Trans Nzoia where he has to decide between former governor Patrick Khaemba and ex-Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.
In Nyanza, the President will have to choose among former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, Fred Outa and Nicholas Gumbo.
Public wage bill
President Ruto’s decision to retain the CAS position created by Mr Uhuru Kenyatta has not augured well with the opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, which accuses the Kenya Kwanza administration of being insensitive to the plight of Kenyans.
The Azimio team last week termed the establishment of CAS as a waste of public money, arguing that the resources being used to expand the executive should have gone into addressing the high cost of living through food, fertiliser and fuel subsidies as well as increasing funding to institutions of higher learning.
“This is not the time to create offices and positions for Kenya Kwanza political rejects. Instead, Kenya Kwanza must be forced to redirect resources towards making life liveable for all citizens,” said party leader Raila Odinga.
The taxpayer will fork out at least Sh2 billion to finance the positions, an office former holders say is a waste of public funds.
Cumulatively, the officials will be taking home Sh17 million every month in salaries, translating to more than Sh1 billion in the first term of the Kenya Kwanza government.
However, Belgut MP Nelson Koech, a senior member of President Ruto’s circle has defended the Head of State, saying, the K government is committed to performance and efficiency. He said the creation of the CAS position is not about increasing wage bills and there is no country that does not have assistant ministers.
By Onyango K’Onyango
Headache: Ruto Faces CAS Dilemma as List Lands on His Desk