Uhuru, Raila’s meeting hours before Cabinet reshuffle
By Anthony Mwangi, Hillary Mageka and Harrison Kivisu
President Uhuru Kenyatta kept his Tuesday changes to the Cabinet a closely guarded secret that even his deputy William Ruto may not have been privy to.
Sources close to State House told People Daily that although there was heightened activity around the Presidency in the last few days, only a small group of advisors was aware of the impending changes that caught many, including Cabinet Secretaries, flat-footed.
However, it emerged that the President had met former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Mombasa on Monday, for a lengthy meeting which lasted more than four hours.
And contrary to the past mode of operations where the President and his deputy would be together when releasing names of Cabinet members and top government officials, this time round Ruto was not present.
Indeed the last time the two were seen together in public was during the Jamhuri Day celebrations on December 12, last year.
But Ruto’s allies downplayed claims that the DP was not consulted, saying it is the prerogative of the President to make changes in his government.
“He can even dissolve the entire Cabinet if he so wishes. The narrative of the President heading one faction and his deputy the other is a creation of the media,” said Aden Duale, the National Assembly’s Leader of Majority.
Reliable sources informed People Daily yesterday that Ruto was in Khartoum (Sudan) on a private engagement during the President’s Tuesday speech.
According to the sources, the DP left the country in a chartered flight accompanied by two members of his family.
However, when contacted Ruto’s press secretary David Mugonyi denied his boss had travelled out of the country.
“The DP has been around and had no intentions of travelling abroad, not even to Sudan,” Mugonyi said.
But Kenya’s ambassador to Sudan, Arown Suge, while confirming that the DP had visited Khartoum, said: “We do not know details about his visit since it was private. He neither visited the embassy nor notified it.”
Mugonyi also downplayed the notion that Uhuru may not have informed his deputy of the intended changes, stating: “The leaders are close buddies and talk on a daily basis on a wide range of issues. How can I know what they talk about over the telephone? So how can you tell what they talked about before the reshuffle?”
Yesterday, it emerged Uhuru had met Raila at the latter’s Nyali residence on Monday. However, it was not possible to establish whether they discussed re-organisation of government.
“They met on Monday from 11am to early afternoon and no one was allowed in,” said the source that cannot be quoted discussing the President’s diary.
Raila is said to have left Mombasa the same day for Arusha, Tanzania, where he spent the night before returning to Mombasa the following day to preside over a high level Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor meeting at a Mombasa hotel.
In the Tuesday’s reshuffle, President Kenyatta named some of Raila allies to senior positions in government. They included one time assistant minister Peter Odoyo, activist Zack Kinuthia, Hussein Dado, Hassan Noor Hassan, Rashid Amana, Maureen Magoma Mbaka and Nadia Ahmed Abdalla who were appointed Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs).
His running mate in the last general election Kalonzo Musyoka also benefitted when the President appointed Wavinya Ndeti and Mercy Mukui Mwangangi as CASs.
Other sources said Raila and Kalonzo had given out names of candidates they wanted appointed CASs and Principal Secretaries after request from the President.
“Nobody knew there would be reshuffle, the changes were kept a secret to many,” said a State House source who sought anonymity because of sensitivity of the matter.