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Inside Politics

Depleted UhuRuto Cabinet convenes after two years

Thursday, May 12th, 2022 10:38 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a past Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi. PHOTO/File

The Cabinet is expected to convene today for one of its last sittings with the country only three months away from the August polls that will mark the end of the Jubilee Party regime.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet meets amidst a bitter fallout with his deputy William Ruto who is constitutionally a member of the top Executive organ and is expected to attend the meeting at State House on Thursday.

The two began their term in 2013 with a public show of camaraderie that was punctuated by donning similar outfits, the most prominent being their white shirts and red ties when they released names of the first Cabinet members. 

But as their reign comes to end they cannot shake hands with each other, preferring the Namaste salute whenever they bump into one another like during the funeral events for late President Mwai Kibaki two weeks ago. 

The current state of their engagement is contrary to the spirit displayed during their first Cabinet upon taking over power in 2013. During the President’s first Cabinet meeting on June 6, 2013, the Head of State implored members to work as a team and focus on service delivery.

“You must take charge of your ministries, work as a team and get down to the business of serving the Kenyan people who are anxious to see the government deliver on its promises,” President Kenyatta was quoted saying in a dispatch by the State House press team that day.

Although the Cabinet remained tight for the better part of their first term, the opposite has happened in the second. 

As they sit today, however, the Cabinet is fragmented with senior members fully focused on the next polls, publicly fighting over who to take over from the President once his term expires.

Traditionally, Cabinet meetings are supposed to be held every Thursday although it is the President’s desecration to schedule them. Two weeks ago, Ruto reported that the Cabinet had not sat for two years while responding to accusations of truancy by the President during this year’s Labour Day celebrations.  

The President had accused the DP of absconding duty in their second term wondering why he had not resigned to give room for him to appoint someone else.

The duo fell out in 2018 after the President shook hands with political rival Raila Odinga leading to cessation of hostilities linked to the hotly contested 2017 polls.

Raila was then co-opted into the government making Ruto uncomfortable. In 2019, the President issued Executive Order number 1 that transferred most of the powers he had handed to the DP in their first term to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i escalating the differences between the two leaders.

Total fallout

They have since totally fallen out with the President now supporting Raila to succeed him with the support of the majority of CSs while his deputy is running on his own for the same prize.  In its sunset days, the Cabinet is five-member short as the President is yet to replace those who quit in February to contest for elective posts.

Devolution CS Charles Keter and counterparts Sicily Kariuki (Water), John Munyes (Mining), Adan Mohammed (EAC Affairs) and Raphael Tuju (Without Portfolio) left to try their luck in politics. Keter and Kariuki lost in the nominations and have set their hopes on their respective coalitions forming the next government to have another chance of service. Adan and Munyes are still in the governor’s race while Tuju is the Executive Director of Azimio coalition.

Uhuru has generally avoided frequent wholesale changes in his Cabinet unlike his predecessors preferring to stick with some of the trusted hands even with the much-publicised fallout with his deputy.

However, as has been the trend before, the top-decision making organ has recorded changes from time and again and presently only five members from the first Cabinet still serve to date.

They are Matiang’i (Interior), Najib Balala (Tourism) Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), Amina Mohamed (Sports) and James Macharia (Transport and Infrastructure). 

Matiang’i has served in most of the dockets during the nine-year period having started at ICT before he was moved to Education. He also acted at Lands and Interior when the positions became temporarily vacant. He was picked as the substantive Interior CS after the 2017 polls.

Omamo has been moved twice. She started at Defence before she was taken to current docket last year. She also acted as Labour CS in 2015.

Amina has also been another nomad in the team serving in a number of posts since 2013. She started in Foreign Affairs, Education and presently Sports and Culture. Macharia has only been moved twice starting as Health CS but was moved to Transport after the 2017 polls. Joe Mucheru was appointed the ICT CS midway in Uhuru’s first term.

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