Split in Uhuru’s Cabinet laid bare after CSs snub Ruto fete
The split in retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet played out on Tuesday during the inauguration of President William Ruto, with some of the Cabinet Secretaries branded as hardliners giving the event a wide berth.
While a number of Cabinet Secretaries showed up at the ceremony to usher in a new government, those known to be Ruto’s strongest critics were conspicuously absent. Among them were Peter Munya (Agriculture), Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence) and Keriako Tobiko (Environment).
But the event was attended by some of their colleagues, including Monica Juma (Energy), James Macharia (Transport), George Magoha (Education), Simeon Chelugui (Labour) Raychelle Omamo (Foreign), Faridah Karoney (Lands), Betty Maina (Industrialisation) and Najib Balala (Tourism).
Incoming leaders present at the event held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, used the opportunity to push the “freedom is coming slogan”.
This was seen as a direct attack on governmet officials who openly sidelined Ruto during the second term of the Jubilee administration.
Matiangi’s absence did not come as a surprise as he, together with Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, have in the past four years been critical of Ruto, despite being his juniors in the pecking order.
Kibicho was, however, present at the event by virtue of being a member of the Assumption of Office Committee. He had long fallen out with Ruto, and campaigned for Raila Odinga.
Matiang’i, on the other hand, had accused Ruto of making baseless claims about a plan by the government to disrupt the just-concluded General Election.
His accusations came after Ruto talked of a plot by some State agents to create tension in his strongholds so as to suppress voter turnout.
“As a senior member of the same government, the Deputy President ought to manifest an understanding of how decisions are arrived at and executed,” Matiang’i repeatedly said.
And to demonstrate that his tenure as Interior CS had ended with the exit of Uhuru, Matiang’i last week penned a farewell letter to his colleagues at the Ministry and its departments.
Achieved a lot
In the letter, he said he had achieved a lot in the ministries he had steered through-out Uhuru’s presidency.
He singled out Kibicho and Principal Secretaries Zeinab Hussein, Safina Kwekwe and Inspector Generals of Police Joseph Boinet and Hilary Mutyambai for their support and commitment to service.
And as Matiang’i was exiting Harambee House, Munya and Mucheru were also preparing to leave as they too have not had rosy relations with Ruto, whom they accused of engaging in early campaigns.
Without mentioning the DP directly, Mucheru said: “We have heard some people promising you analogue solutions as part of a new economic blueprint to bring you prosperity. I am a student of economics and I do not see how the successful economic uplifting of our people can be carried on with outdated solutions.”
Tobiko, too, was critical of Ruto and at one point described him as a “mere clerk of the President”, while Wamalwa had claimed that Ruto had attempted to slap him.
But as the anti-Ruto CSs snubbed the event, some of their colleagues and PSs said they are ready to work with Ruto in his government. Magoha, though stating that he was not looking for a job, hinted that he would not turn down an offer to serve in the new government.
Others like Labour CS Simon Chelugui and his Tourism counterpart Cabinet secretary Najib Balala have openly associated themselves with the president since he was declared winner of the August 9 polls.
Chelugui was at Ruto’s Karen residence when he was giving his acceptance speech after his win was upheld by the Supreme Court, while Balala has on two occasions congratulated Ruto for winning the polls.
Macharia, who graced Tuesday’s ceremony, openly campaigned for Raila and was present when a caucus from Mount Kenya region endorsed Raila as their candidate. Karoney, Omamo and Maina, who had also attended events presided over by Raila, never criticised Ruto openly.