Experts, journalists also in the running for jobs in Ruto’s government

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023 07:00 | By
Dennis Itumbi
Dennis Itumbi. PHOTO/Courtesy
Dennis Itumbi

The move by the Public Service Commission to shortlist former Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s allies for CAS jobs is likely to be seen as meant to weaken the Opposition coalition and its leader.

It comes only days after ODM, one of the major parties in Azimio, warned that it will take disciplinary action against its MPs who have been hobnobbing with top political leaders of the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance, including President William Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua.

In recent weeks, Raila has criticised the MPs — nine from his Nyanza stronghold — for meeting with members of the Ruto Cabinet.

Ruto has been seeking to consolidate his government six months after winning the August 9 presidential election, an outcome that Raila has rejected as illegitimate.

Besides the opportunity to raid his rival’s bases, Ruto also has a strong line-up of close allies that he can appoint as CAS if they qualify for appointment after the interviews.

Among them are former MPs Anania Mwaboza and Khatib Mwashetani, who were strong voices from the Coast in their heyday as legislators, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Caleb Kositany, Catherine Waruguru, Charles Njagua alias Jaguar, Victor Munyaka, Cleophas Malalah, and Isaac Mwaura. Such appointees can come in handy in handling the political communication affecting ministries compared to technocrats, who are more adept at implementing than they are at messaging.

CBC headache

Among the notable doers are Mbaruku Ali Vyakweli, an expert in water and sanitation who served in the Nairobi Water and Sanitation Company. He will be competing alongside diplomats like Mohamed Mahat, who is likely to be well suited in handling the Diaspora Affairs docket.

He also has subject-matter experts, especially in education, who can help his administration find a remedy for the headache caused by implementation of the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC). Among these are Kahi Indimuli and Wilson Sossion, both of who have long experience as leaders of teachers’ unions and who still hold sway in both Kuppet and Knut respectively. Now however, they will have to work as insiders finding solutions rather than outsiders poking holes if they are successful.

They will be competing for the position with former Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development Director Julius Juan, one of the few top education officials who understand the nitty-gritties of CBC and who also served as Permanent Secretary for Education in the Uhuru administration.

Another expert in the race is Prof Micheni Ntiba, who, if successful, will be among the few people to have served as CAS in both the Uhuru and Ruto administrations. Ntiba, though a water and fisheries expert, served in the State Law Office in the previous administration.

On communication, this is the first time that a large number of communication experts and journalists has been shortlisted for CAS appointment, starting with Dennis Itumbi, who served as Digital Communication Director for Ruto when Ruto was Deputy President. He is in line for consideration alongside Lindah Ogutu, a former NTV and KTN Prime Time news presenter and her Kiswahili bulletin counterpart from Citizen TV, Mwanaisha Chidzuga. Ghati worked as a features writer at the Standard in the early 2000s.

Ruto will also have a large slate of people with disability to choose from. In the shortlist are, among others, Hitan Chhagan Hirabhai Majevdia, who is both a minority and a PWD, and former nominated MP Dennitah Ghati.

Also in the running is Dr Patrick Iribe Mwangi, who, for many years, was co-host of the Kameme FM Book Club show, and who is one of the leading scholars in Kiswahili. Iribe has written extensively for print media outlets in both English and Kiswahili and stands astride both education and media sectors

Of course, there are some, like Millicent Omanga, who are likely to be picked on account of their loyalty to the President and his party, UDA, the main partner in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. Omanga also brings colour to public discourse, in a country known for uptight political engagements and combative politics. She will be considered alongside Kimani Ngunjiri, Seneta Mary Yiane and Purity Wangui Ngirichu, who all stuck their necks out for Ruto and UDA.

Lawyer Samuel Letangule will also find himself in a unique position if he is selected considering that he has also been shortlisted for the chairmanship of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he will be competing against another lawyer, Prof Kivutha Kibwana among others.

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