Rogue or ignorant? Ruto CSs’ actions baffle Kenyans, anger lawmakers

Mithika Linturi, Moses Kuria

From left: Cabinet Secretaries Mithika Linturi (Agriculture) Susan Nakhumicha’s (Health), Moses Kurua (Trade) and Alfred Mutua (Foreign Affairs).

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha’s “order” for the transfer of the officer in charge of Matisi police station continues a trend by President William Ruto’s Cabinet Secretaries’ attempts to exercise powers beyond their mandates.

Ms Nakhumicha, in contravention of the constitution, said she has the power to transfer the officer in her capacity as a CS and that her directive was final. She said the Kenya Kwanza government is implementing a “one-government approach” where any CS can make pronouncements over roles outside their ambit.

“…. I am giving an order, county commandant if you are here or you can hear me from wherever you are, by tomorrow (Sunday) the Matisi OCS should be gone,” said Ms Nakhumicha over the weekend.

Her pronouncement comes hot on the heels of one by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Sunday informing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leaders their withdrawn security will only be reinstated if they “behave well” for the next three months.

The security detail of Azimio leader Raila Odinga, Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and more than 50 MPs and governors allied to the coalition was withdrawn two weeks ago at the height of anti-government protests.

According to Article 245 of the Constitution on the command of the National Police Service, Section 4 states that no person may give direction to the Inspector-General with respect to employment, assignment, promotion, suspension or dismissal of any member of the service except the CS responsible.

Mr Gachagua and Ms Nakhumicha are among a growing list of Kenya Kwanza leaders who are acting beyond their powers, begging the question whether their actions are by design or just being rogue.

Investment, Trade and Industry CS Moses Kuria and his counterparts Alfred Mutua (Foreign Affairs) and Florence Bore (Labour) are the other members of the Cabinet who have attempted to direct matters beyond their ministries.

DP Gachagua tells Migori Governor Ayacko why his security detail was withdrawn

In November last year, Mr Kuria and his Agriculture counterpart Mithika Linturi clashed over food imports directives. This is after Mr Kuria announced that the government was planning to import genetically modified maize to cushion Kenyans against hunger. He went ahead to indicate that Kenya has a maize production deficit of 15 million bags. He also warned farmers against hoarding the produce or the government would buy from foreign markets.

However, Mr Linturi distanced himself from the pronouncements, saying he was not aware of any plans to ship GM maize.

“I am the custodian of the ministry and I am not ready to answer to what is being reported in social media,” he said.

The CS went ahead to allay food insecurity fears, saying he has all the data.

Fast forward to February, Mr Kuria was at it again, calling for the bombing of Khartoum if Sudan’s warring generals failed to reach a truce. He said that military invasion is the surest way of dealing with armies overthrowing governments and that the African Union should not hesitate to bomb Sudan.

“The community of nations should militarily invade any country where armies overthrow the government. Appeasement does not pay off,” he wrote.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’oei would later say that Mr Kuria’s sentiments do not reflect Kenya’s position on the matter.

“The personal views expressed by Moses Kuria do not represent government policy on this complex and challenging issue. We continue to work with all parties towards a peaceful resolution of the Sudan Crisis,” said Dr Sing’oei.

In that same month, the two read from different scripts about the push to close down China Square, with the CS saying the Chinese were welcome in the country as manufacturers and not traders.

“No lawful investment actor- irrespective of their nationality- should be apprehensive because the country’s investment regime is non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory,” said the PS.

Last month, Ms Bore took charge of the Londiani Junction accident updating Kenyans on the fatalities and injuries from the accident despite the same falling under Roads CS Kipchumba Murkomen.

On Saturday, Dr Mutua said Kenya has agreed to deploy 1,000 police officers to Haiti to train and assist the country’s police to restore normalcy and protect strategic installations.

Such a pronouncement would ideally come from the Interior ministry rather than Foreign Affairs.

A number of President Ruto’s CS have also irked senators over their unbecoming behaviour towards them.

On Wednesday, Senate Speaker Amason Kingi said Dr Mutua and Ms Nakhumicha only informed the secretariat the night before their scheduled appearance before the House that they would not attend the sitting to answer questions from senators.

“We will engage the Prime Cabinet Secretary because as an institution, we are not going to tolerate this behaviour. If a Cabinet secretary is unable to attend such a session, courtesy demands that they write to the Senate in good time so that the Senate can re-arrange its business. Writing to the Senate a few hours to its sitting shows discourtesy,” he said.

Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot added: “I want to bring to your attention that this is conduct unbecoming on the part of the two CSs. Appearance before Parliament is not a privilege and is not something that you joke with.”

Majority Whip Boni Khalwale called for Parliament to take a position not to process any business brought by CSs who fail to honour their invitations.

“If people want to have joyriders, let them have those joyriders outside Parliament and the Executive. The country requires us to be pushed so that we can deliver where we are. We cannot do it when we have people who take trips as a priority over transacting government business,” said the Kakamega senator.