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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 26 October 2014


President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to be preparing to give Kenyans a gift of the year, a Christmas-cum-New Year surprise goodies that he hopes will impact on his presidential bid all the way to 2017.

Aware of this, panic has gripped the cabinet and other government institutions as they wait anxiously to see who has satisfied Uhuru and who has not, and hence who will bid bye to the coveted offices. Sources say that appointments are to be made in parastatals with even word that a report by a taskforce appointed to streamline their operations is to be implemented. Corruption and failure to perform will determine who goes and who remains.

Several factors are at play, including the elephant currently in the room of Kenyan international relations – the judgment any day now by the ICC judges on Uhuru’s crimes against humanity case at The Hague, Netherlands.

Whichever way the judges move, ranging from indefinite postponement to citing him and Kenya before the Rome Statute’s Assembly of States Parties, or terminating the case and severely reprimanding the prosecution, Uhuru’s topmost team of strategists, which includes both Kenyans and foreign political advisers have told him to stamp his authority dramatically and forcefully on the political and administrative scene at home.

Uhuru’s advisers look covetously at Rwandese President Paul Kagame’s periodic displays of executive authority and Rwandese sovereignty that include cutting ties with France, introducing English as a new national language alongside French and, just last week, banning the British Broadcasting Corporation from Rwanda. They wish their boss could flex his presidential muscle like Kagame.

The reshuffle is part of the continuing process to rebrand Uhuru after his appearance at the ICC as a private citizen taking care of personal challenges to the extent that he handed over power to Deputy President William Ruto for two days. It was the first such appearance by a head of state.
The other major factor is the three-way national referendum campaign – the opposition Cord Okoa Kenya fronted by Raila Odinga, the Pesa Mashinani fronted by Council of Governors’ chairman Isaac Rutto, whose political standpoint is as the deputy president’s nemesis, and the Jubilee administration’s own strategy which is to forestall the referendum until the 2017 general election.

If the devolution referendum is embedded in the 2017 general election as the seventh vote, the plot is to allow Cord to win the public vote but again lose the secret ballot and remain out of State House and even more of a minority in both parliament and the senate than is the case now. Caught in such this awkward corner of a win-lose situation, the opposition will be completely out of steam for years.

If he, indeed, stands for a fourth time for the presidency, Raila will have the near-meaningless consolation prize of winning the referendum, but Uhuru would retain State House and secure the crucial second term that is widely viewed as the legacy-building term.

The next gameplan from there will be the battle for the Uhuru succession 2022.
To address all these factors, plus the constant background and headache of Kenya’s political class – mega corruption at the heart of both government and opposition taking the centrestage - the president is planning an earthquake of a reshuffle as Kenyans enter the 2014 festive mood.
According to impeccable insider sources, in one believed to be a deft move by the president, he is likely to accept the resignation of at least one cabinet secretary and enlarge the cabinet to its constitutionally mandated maximum of 22 slots.

Kenyans are waiting to see if Devolution and National Planning CS Anne Waiguru will be moved. Cabinet secretaries Joseph ole Lenku (Interior) and Michael Kamau (Transport), who are otherwise considered powerful and having the president’s ear had completely surrendered themselves to parliament’s summonses when the president  summoned speaker Justin Muturi and others. The two ministers fled from the precincts of parliament just a jump ahead of their date with MPs in the then envisaged grilling.

Kamau is also said to be on his way out as his ministry as it continues to witness tender fraud in the ministry. It is claimed that cases of tenders fraudulently being awarded to the correct few has doubled in comparison to the Kibaki era. It is said he has done  next to nothing to improve the transport sector.

Perhaps, worst affected by the power play games behind the scenes was Lands secretary Charity Ngilu who actually appeared before MPs and put them in their place.
The greatest losers in the shuffle could all be women, Raychelle Omamo at Defence and Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed. Insider sources indicate Amina could find herself at Industrialisation, replacing Aden Mohammed, who can not wait to leave the cabinet and return to the private sector.

Omamo, who was previously Kenya’s ambassador to France, could find herself at Foreign Affairs while a brand new minister, a man, is dispatched to Defence portfolio.
Education’s CS Jacob Kaimenyi and his counterpart at Labour Kazungu Kambi could easily be the biggest losers as the plot is to drop them and blame them for the laptop project’s failure, poor state of industrial relations, particularly with regard to teachers’ perennial ruckus. Kaimenyi and Kambi will also be pointed at by the Jubilee administration as proof positive that the regime does not condone incompetence and corruption in the cabinet.

Another targetted is minister is Hassan Wario of Sports, Culture and Arts. Sources say he is being accused of being sucked into local football controversies including poor performance by Harambee Stars. 

Others likely to face the whip for poor performance are Judy Wakhungu of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and Felix Kosgei of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. Another CS set to get the boot is Davis Chirchir of Energy and Petroleum who has failed to impress.  Information, Communication and Technology CS Fred Matiang’i is also a marked man and could find himself jobless after Uhuru’s re-arrangement of his government.  

Uhuru will be shuffling his deck of cabinet cards with a number of other complex dynamics in mind. For instance, when he recently met a number of Western region MPs who are finally ready to throw in their lot with him, Uhuru responded heatedly to their request that he gives Musalia Mudavadi, Eugene Wamalwa and other Luhyas “something to do” including parastatal and cabinet slots.

According to a participant at the talks, a highly charged Uhuru banged the table and the arm of the chair he was seated on as he responded, telling the MPs to forget someone who has flown a flag for as long as Mudavadi (who joined the cabinet in 1989) without adding much value. “Show me a project to do in Western instead,” the president thundered.

It is because of Uhuru’s reaction which many say was meant not to antagonise his deputy William Ruto, a sworn enemy of Mudavadi that Luhya MPs have a soft spot for Uhuru. Talk has been that UDF MPs have a working relationship with Ruto’s URP. In fact, the said State House meeting with the MPs was brokered by Ruto.

The president is certainly thinking big, and viewing the country region by region, wanting to leave no one behind, especially those who voted against him. The president’s biggest disappointment of recent times was not even his trip to The Hague on October 8, it was the indefinite postponement of his hastily planned three-day tour of Kisumu county.

A busy schedule of events had been organised that were designed to project the president as a progenitor of development and infrastructure projects even to apparently hostile regions. Kisumu State Lodge was quickly cleaned up and refurbished ahead of an unprecedented cabinet meeting that was to be part of the tour. Prisoners from GK Prison Kodiaga were rushed to the State Lodge under heavy security to prepare the gardens and flowerbeds.

But then a number of top bureaucrats at the office of the president, including the police chiefs, met a number of Kisumu elected leaders and advised the president against the tour on both political and security grounds.

The coming shuffle will almost certainly see a number of the securocrats and political advisers moved or their powers sharply reduced. Presidential political advisers Joshua Kuttuny and Nancy Gitau are particularly exposed and vulnerable.

The man going to be spared the sack is Treasury CS Henry Rotich who is said to have performed well. The successful floating of the Eurobond earned him huge marks. Sources say Rotich is now Jubilee’s top performing CS in government.

Also likely to survive the chop is Tourism and Regional Trade minister Phylis Kandie who despite the challenges posed to tourism by terrorism, she has managed to stabilise the ministry. This she has done by deftly working to retain the traditional market of Europe and America while at the same time venturing into new markets in UAE, China and India to make up for the numbers. At the same time, she has been reaching out to the traditional markets which saw Germany downgrade its travel advisories to Kenya.

Her biggest achievement so far however is the introduction of a single tourists visa for the East African region whereby tourists now need only one visa to tour East Africa. Kandie whose docket covers regional commerce has also managed to launch and sign the East African Community-European Union economic partnership agreement talks which is now waiting ratification by the partner states  parliaments.

On the commerce side, her ministry has been spearheading marketing of Kenya to attract direct foreign investment which economists say is having a positive impact. She is the chairperson of the council of ministers of EAC while Uhuru is the chair of the EAC heads of state summit.

Mining CS Najib Balala is also safe and could even land a more powerful ministry. There have been reports that he could be the new Lands cabinet secretary and swap positions with Ngilu.
It is also whispered that following the MoU, Ngilu and Balala had with jubilee, they can only be shuffled but cannot be sacked.

Word going round is that although Uhuru has a lean cabinet of only 18 CSs, the shock is that even at school, students can hardly name half the cabinet off head. There have been complaints that most of the CSs are colourless and rarely appear in public to officiate functions in their dockets. Instead, they prefer to spend their time in their offices and five-star hotels in Mombasa and Nairobi.

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