Mutuma: Cabinet gave us a topic to ponder

President Ruto cabinet

The nominees to President William Ruto’s Cabinet will have to wait longer before they take up their new jobs because the National Assembly has yet to constitute the committees that will vet them.

Photo credit: Augustine Sang | Nation Media Group

I am forever tickled by the torrent of praise poured on President William Ruto and his supposed political genius by his political fans, who are permanently in awe of his many gifts. 

While I have no personal knowledge of the matter, I must confess that the political thinking behind the Cabinet appointments this week, appears to be quite polished: Nobody got more reward than was their due, and no one who really needed rewarding walked away empty-handed.

I think—and this is just my own supposition—perhaps with the slim exception of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, nobody has any chance of doing a ‘Ruto’ on President William Ruto: Building a political and financial war chest to mount a successful political coup against his boss.

The Cabinet appointments delegate power to trusted lieutenants, but only up to a point. And where you have been given power, financial autonomy does not always go with it, however trusted you are. And you may have a glamorous job, but little access to the people to build a power base.

Like I said, these are just my suppositions and they may have no basis in fact.

But let us take an example or two. Dr Alfred Mutua got a very glamorous appointment, one of the ministries of State, permanently in the limelight and gives him a platform not just to advance his political career, but also to impact regional, continental and global issues. His appointment to Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, sends warm vibes to the two million voters back home in Ukambani and builds a beachhead for future electoral overtures.

But it is somewhat difficult to build a local political powerbase from the Foreign ministry; its operations are foreign. You can’t connect with the people effectively, not when you are permanently in a plane or with a cocktail glass up your armpit.

Secondly, take the Western nation. It is argued that Bungoma delivered the election to Kenya Kwanza and the presidency to Dr Ruto. Mr Moses Wetang’ula gave up his seat on the Senate and was elected Speaker of the National Assembly; big, powerful position and third in line of succession, in reward for that. 

But the Western delegation did not deliver enough votes to warrant the full-blown share of the spoils they had been promised had they delivered the 70 per cent target. So, Mr Musalia Mudavadi is the Chief Cabinet Secretary but without portfolio and whose duties are coordination of government and “assisting” the President—and Deputy President—in the execution of various tasks. It is a big job but, perhaps, lacking in original jurisdiction—if you know what I mean.

“Assisting” may end up being the kind of job which involves being sent to do the things that nobody else has time for—like opening conferences and representing the office at funerals. But I am most probably wrong; actually, I suspect I am wrong and we will soon learn the full impact of the appointment.

The Interior ministry remains consequential in overseeing the security sector. A large part of its attractiveness traditionally comes from the pool of secret security money which is said to float around there. Now that the National Police Service is going to be managing its own funds and the Principal Secretary Interior will no longer be the accounting officer, I suppose a bit of the nectar will shift elsewhere, possibly State House. 

So, Prof Kithure Kindiki, if he is confirmed by Parliament, gets the Interior pie, but not the old pie. There are crumbs floating away in the top layer, as it were. But maybe I have been talking to people with over-active imaginations.

Ms Aisha Jumwa landed a biggie in the Cabinet as well, as CS for Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action—a nice overture to women and just reward for a good foot soldier. But the former Malindi MP is on trial for murder and, while she is innocent until proven guilty, what would be the value of parliamentary vetting if it allows the appointment of this kind of suspect who may well turn out to be more than just a suspect when the court process is concluded? 

This may well be what one clever smart mouth called “appointment without really being The Cabinet appointments provided a talking point, something we could dissent and argue about in social places. It was also an opportunity for Kenya Kwanza people to brag about the clever tactics of their hero. But behind that is serious business: First, to take quick and good care of the economy as a matter of urgency.

A lot of energy has gone into pointing out all the wrong things that the previous administration did. This is all well and good; we must know where we are coming from, right? But the former administration is no longer in power. You are. It is your monkey now.

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