Disappointment as Ruto key allies from Kakamega miss out in Cabinet

Police officers prevent Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali (in yellow shirt) from entering Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega on July 30, 2022. Mr Washiali resisted attempts by the officers to arrest him. He missed out on Cabinet line up.

Photo credit: File

Key allies of President William Ruto from the Western region were missing on the list of Cabinet secretaries named on Tuesday, jolting their hopes of keeping alive their political careers.

Key poll losers in the region included former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, who did not defend the seat after serving three terms but decided instead to lead campaigns for Dr Ruto in Kakamega County.

Mr Washiali, a staunch supporter of Dr Ruto, had widely been expected to be named to a Cabinet position but that did not happen.

Before he announced that he would not defend the Mumias East MP’s seat, Mr Washiali explained that he wanted to focus on campaigning for Dr Ruto and was ready to serve in any position after the August 9 elections.

But on Monday, Mr Washiali, a seasoned politician and a close ally of President Ruto since 2013, appeared to have taken a big political gamble after failing to clinch the CS position.

During the campaigns, Kenya Kwanza leaders from Western Kenya had urged voters in the region to back President Ruto, arguing that he would ensure the region got seven Cabinet slots.

In the polls, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga received 357,857 votes against Dr Ruto’s 141,166.

Kakamega residents voted overwhelmingly for Mr Odinga and appear headed for another spell without a key Cabinet position in the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Former Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala is another close ally of President Ruto who has been left out of the Cabinet appointments.

After he was defeated in the governor’s contest, Mr Malala, largely credited with pushing for the partnership between President Ruto and Mr Mudavadi, was expected to be on the Cabinet list.

Both Mr Washiali and Mr Malala will have to wait and hope to be considered for other positions in Dr Ruto’s administration.

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa, who unsuccessfully contested the Mumias West parliamentary seat, was also not picked for the Cabinet.

In Vihiga County, supporters of former Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi had hoped that he would find a place in the new administration as a Cabinet secretary after he unsuccessfully contested the Vihiga governor’s seat.

Wamalwa left out too

In Trans-Nzoia County, former Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, a close ally of National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, was left out too.

Mr Wamalwa was in the race for the Trans Nzoia governor’s seat but lost to former Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya.

Meanwhile, an Azimio legislator has urged his counterparts in Kenya Kwanza to adopt a bi-partisan approach in vetting President William Ruto's Cabinet nominees in order to fulfill the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita lamented that some of the individuals proposed have questionable leadership and integrity issues.

"As people entrusted with the responsibility of vetting and [approving] public officers, we should not be swayed by political affiliation," he said.

He said the nominees should be vetted on their qualifications and experience.

Most of the nominees unveiled on Tuesday, he said, were rewarded for standing with President Ruto in the run-up to last month’s elections.

"While it is okay to reward the people who supported you, it is equally important to ensure that the individuals have the right demonstrable leadership and management capabilities that would enable them to deliver on their mandate," he said.

Under the law, Kenyans will get a seven-day window to present any objections in writing on individuals nominated to serve in the executive.

This will be followed by a public vetting of the nominees by the National Assembly, where each individual will be grilled by MPs on their qualifications before they are approved.

Once Speaker Wetang’ula receives the nominees’ names from the President, he will announce them in the House before giving the list to the Committee on Appointments.

The committee will hold its first sitting and direct the clerk to publish the names in national newspapers, inviting Kenyans to submit to the House in writing any objections they may have about the nominees.
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