Ruto’s Cabinet choice is a promising, balanced team

President William Ruto finally unveiled his much-awaited Cabinet yesterday, putting to an end the speculation that has characterised the past two weeks since he was sworn in. Of course, scrutiny has begun to establish whether those picked merit the positions.

The President has had to craft a team to balance the various interest groups and run the country for the next five years.

As was widely expected, he appointed ANC party leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi as Prime Cabinet Secretary. This key position is, no doubt, in recognition of his contribution to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) victory. Another KKA co-principal, Mr Moses Wetang’ula, is already the Speaker of the National Assembly. In addition, Dr Ruto handed the key Foreign and Diaspora Affairs docket to Dr Alfred Mutua, the Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader and former Machakos governor, who is also a KKA co-principal.

As often happens, the President has not forgotten some of his key allies, handing the key Interior docket to Prof Kithure Kindiki, who led his legal team in the successful election petition in the Supreme Court. Garissa Town MP Aden Duale will be in charge of the critical Defence portfolio.

Although there is bound to be some disappointment among those who had been made to believe that the gender balance in the Cabinet would be at 50-50, there is a sizeable number of women. And they have been given prime slots. Indeed, this is a step in the right direction. There are more women in the 23-member team than in the outgoing Jubilee administration. Lawyer Alice Wahome, the Kandara MP, will be in charge of Water while newcomers Susan Wafula and Florence Bore were named the Health and Labour CS, respectively.

Another notable pick is Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, who is back in the limelight as the  National Treasury CS. The subtle message from the President is that this key portfolio will be under a knowledgeable and experienced financial affairs manager.

Unfortunately, picking elected leaders such as Mr Duale, Ms Wahome and Kipchumba Murkomen will necessitate by-elections to fill the vacancies that will be created once they are vetted and cleared for their positions in the Executive. This is an additional cost to the taxpayer but, if they will add value to those positions, why not?

At a glance, there is clear evidence of the face of Kenya in the team with every region handed a key docket. True to his word, President Ruto has not picked anyone from the Opposition to join his Cabinet. After all, some people could have accused him of poaching and weakening the Opposition. The rival camp should now get ready to play its pivotal watchdog role to keep the new administration on its toes.

Implement its election manifesto

With the Cabinet now selected, the Ruto administration must get ready to implement its election manifesto, in which he pledged to fix the economic and other challenges plaguing Kenyans and improve the well-being of the citizens. The KKA government has the mandate to steer national development for the benefit of all Kenyans, regardless of which side they voted for in the August 9 General Election.

As the Head of the State and the symbol of national sovereignty, President Ruto is the leader of all Kenyans—including the more than seven million who voted for him and the 6.9 million who cast their lot with his arch-rival, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party flagbearer Raila Odinga.

Kenyans and the international community now expect a smooth changeover from the officials in the Uhuru Kenyatta administration to their successors. It is laudable that Dr Ruto held his first—and maybe, only—meeting as President with the outgoing Cabinet. That obviously served to break the ice over their frosty relations in the run-up to and during the election campaigns and thereafter.

These officials have made their contributions to the nation in their various portfolios and deserve a warm send-off. That is if they do not have integrity issues that need to be ironed out. Their meeting with the President was a great gesture that further confirmed that our governance system is well-entrenched to enable those who have served the country to peacefully exit as their successors come in. The vetting should be expedited to confirm the abilities of those picked for the Cabinet positions so that they can begin their service to the country.