Doctors strike, banditry, fake fertiliser: Ruto ministers and the big crises

Cabinet meeting

President William Ruto chairs a cabinet meeting in State House, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • Ministries are facing criticism over inability to fix problems.
  • Analysts say the affected CSs make empty threats and promises
  • Cabinet Secretaries on the spot include Susan Nakhumicha (health) on the doctors’ strike, Kithure Kindiki (Interior) on banditry.

At least six Cabinet Secretaries are on the spot over their inability to address crises in their ministries as President William Ruto inches closer to two years in office.

The CSs are Susan Nakhumicha (health) on the doctors’ strike, Kithure Kindiki (Interior) on banditry, Agriculture’s Mithika Linturi and Rebecca Miano of Trade on claims of fake fertiliser and seeds, Kipchumba Murkomen of Transport on road accidents and safety, and Education’s Ezekiel Machogu on funding crisis in schools, including most recent that led to schools closing nearly a week earlier.

For Ms Nakhumicha, the ongoing doctors’ strike now entering its fourth week, and soon to be joined by clinical officers, has been a thorn in her flesh, with efforts led by Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei so far having not borne any fruits.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha. She has been a victim of unmerited personal attacks following the doctors' strike.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

“CS Nakhumicha made pronouncements about cartels in malaria testing kits in her ministry but no known action was taken against the cartels yet there were changes in specification of malaria kits. Her linking of the doctors’ strike to cartels also put a dent and raised questions on how reliable is information that she releases to Kenyans and as Kenyans take her word to the bank,” said Nyeri Town MP Duncan Mathenge.

Ms Nakhumicha has, however, made great strides for making of four laws to support Universal Health Care, supporting Kenya Medical Supplies Agency to supply medical commodities and rolling out of community health promoters and equipping them.

She was also instrumental in efforts to operationalise Kenya Medical Training Colleges campuses that were completed but lacked equipment to be put in use.Moi University lecturer Prof Nyaga Kindiki said instead of threatening to sack doctors who have downed their tools, Ms Nakhumicha should act as a mediator and address their demands as contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2017.

“She should portray leadership qualities of a CS as the senior-most person in the ministry. The union leaders are not happy with her threats to sack doctors,” Prof Nyaga said.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna also cautioned against threatening the medics.

And Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi is having sleepless nights following the supply of fake seeds and fertiliser to farmers.

The sale of the fertiliser in National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots has since been stopped by a Cabinet sub-committee as the government investigates claims that farmers were being sold soil particles and animal wastes.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Trade Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano has been sucked into the matter, with the opposition demanding that alongside Mr Linturi they should be fired for the saga. Ms Miano is under fire because the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) that charged with responsibility of enforcing quality is under her ministry.

Already, Senate Agriculture committee chairman Kamau Murango said it has summoned Mr Linturi and Ms Miano over the saga.

Mr Linturi has insisted that the fake fertiliser debate was being blown out of proportion.

Rebecca Miano

Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry Rebecca Miano at her office in Nairobi on October 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, on the other hand, has been fingered over increased accidents despite imposing new directives after an accident at Londiani in Kericho County claimed 51 people in June last year.

Mr Murkomen called for relevant agencies to revise speed limits in the area and provide bumps and signage. He said all markets along the road reserve should be relocated, and that the police and the National Safety and Transport Authority (NTSA) should intensify anti-drunk driving operations across the country.

However, most of these plans were reversed, only to be re-introduced by Mr Murkomen last week after the deaths of 25 people in a week, including 11 Kenyatta University students who lost their lives in Taita Taveta on their way to Mombasa.

Mr Murkomen insists that the matter will be handled.

Kipchumba Murkomen

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu has been accused of not doing enough to address delays in release of capitation money for learning institutions leading to early closure of some schools.

Although the CS announced on Wednesday the release of Sh30.5 billion to cover secondary education capitation as well as loans and scholarships for university students, the impact of the delays whose reason is yet to be explained, is huge, and this week led to some early closures in boarding schools.

The Ministry of Education has also been facing storm over inadequate Junior Secondary Schools teachers and learning materials, delayed disbursement of loans to students, technology hitches facing students seeking admission to universities and selection of courses and leakages in national examinations.

Despite his ministry being voted as the best in terms of performance, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki has been having sleepless nights over persistent insecurity in North Rift and terror activities in northern Kenya.

In North Rift, banditry has left 2,700 families displaced, 20 schools closed and three locations deserted. Banditry has also claimed 16 lives in Baringo County this year. Yesterday, President Ruto held a meeting with Prof Kindiki and top officers in the ministry over the banditry situation in the North Rift.

He said a comprehensive multi-agency eradication strategy will soon be launched to tackle livestock rustlers, highway robbers and human traffickers in the Rift Valley and Eastern regions.

The ministry is also on the spot for backlog in processing of passport, which has created avenue for corruption.