Cabinet meeting

President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting on the El Nino disaster response at State House in Nairobi yesterday.


President Ruto, sack inefficient officers; the buck stops with you

The buck stops here." It was American President Harry Truman (1945-1953) who famously placed that sign on his desk at the White House. We need a similar determination on President William Ruto’s desk. The time for excuses and buck-passing ended a long time. Blaming everything that is going wrong on his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta no longer sells.

President Ruto must recognise that he, and he alone, is the President of the Republic of Kenya. He is the Head of State and Government. And that he is the validly elected occupant of the high office is not in contestation. He must, therefore, have the confidence and courage to work towards fulfilment of his onerous responsibilities without forever looking over his shoulders.

The President must also be acutely aware that it is him who carries the heaviest burden. Cabinet secretaries and senior civil servants who have been given the responsibility to deliver on the Kenya Kwanza manifesto work at the pleasure of the President. Should they fail, as they are so spectacularly doing, it is the President who will be blamed.

Those failings will impact most directly on President Ruto, whose prospects for securing a second term come the 2027 General Election will be measured by his first term performance. If the failings already so evident are anything to go by, we might have to conclude that President Ruto is not interested in re-election.

Broken economy

Granted that he inherited a broken economy from an administration in which he served as second-in-command, there is still the simple truth that he was elected on the promise to fix whatever he might have contributed to breaking. No amount of banal sloganeering or excuses will obscure that simple fact.

Candidate Ruto said he had a plan—The Plan. But that "plan" is not in evidence in the Ruto administration beyond useless rhetoric and tired sloganeering. If seriously intent on turning things around, he must, without further delay, jettison non-performers. CSs, principal secretaries and other senior officials who were appointed on factors other than merit must be shown the door.

This is the time for the President to wield the big axe and get rid of the dullards and sycophants who dominate his administration and are good for nothing other than being praise singers or working overtime lining their pockets.

Kenya is not short of talent. We have probably the richest human resource pool on the continent. Kenyan managers are making their mark in the biggest corporations globally and could contribute immensely if given an opportunity to get this country working again.

Unfortunately, we have carried on the tradition of appointing to important offices the most unqualified of persons.

Reward friends

President Ruto takes pride in being loyal to those who have stood by him. It is, indeed, commendable that he does not hesitate to reward friends and allies.

Government, however, is not personal property. As a person deeply involved in private business, the entrepreneur in him would not appoint anyone who would kill his investments. He would draw the line at appointing incompetents and thieves to manage his hotels, farms, insurance companies, banks, transport companies and other enterprises that, by the laws of business, must generate profits or close down.

The same basic principles must apply to government appointments. It becoming quite evident that his administration is failing; President Ruto has no option but to get rid of those who are letting him down. A major Cabinet reshuffle is long overdue.

What we need here is not the usual game of musical chairs or replacement of one set of incompetents with another but a radical shift towards a government made up of the best and brightest appointed, first of all, on merit before any other considerations.

It should be evident to the President that most of the current crop of CSs and PSs simply do not have it. They are failing him and failing the country but, ultimately, come the next job interview in 2027, he will shoulder the burden alone. He will not have the option of passing the buck upwards, sideways, downwards or anywhere else. He must act now before it is too late.

Firm and decisive action on that score is what distinguishes a leader. President Ruto can no longer allow himself to be beholden to those so obviously unsuited for the jobs he has given them. He needs men and women who can deliver on the Kenya Kwanza promise. Without those kind of people in place, he might as well kiss goodbye to the prospects of a second term.

[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho