What you need to know:
- Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said the looming changes in the National Assembly are part of a house cleaning process.
- Panic has reigned in the Cabinet, with CSs and PSs whose dockets are tainted by corruption worried that they will be among the first casualties of the new order.
The stage is set for the formation of a government of national unity as President Uhuru Kenyatta races against time to implement his legacy projects — the Big Four Agenda.
The reorganisation, the Saturday Nation has learnt, will see at least seven Cabinet secretaries, about 10 principal secretaries and chief administrative secretaries shown the door.
Unlike his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, President Kenyatta appears to be keen to craft his own succession, something that has not resonated well with his deputy, who had hoped to be running the show two years to the end of his boss’s term.
President Kenyatta has been consulting with key political players in the country such as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, Kanu boss Gideon Moi and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka in what is understood to be part of consensus building that could see them nominate their allies for plum jobs in government.
The State jobs are just some of the goodies on the table. Other sources say the agreements the Kenyatta-leaning Jubilee has been signing with other political parties are also meant to secure safe passage for the oft-talked-about referendum.
A confidante of Mr Odinga said that hot on the heels of the Kanu deal, the ODM leader is poised to lead his party into a similar agreement.
The move will see the party queue behind President Kenyatta in fast-tracking constitutional reforms in line with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“There is no post-Covid government of national unity,” the source well-informed of the goings-on in government said.
“These agreements are meant to pave the road for the referendum. It is only after the referendum has been adopted that we shall sit and decide how to form the unity government going into 2022.”
The ongoing purge in Parliament is meant to push through the approval of new nominees after some allies of Deputy President William Ruto threatened to shoot down a major bill from the Executive to send a signal that the National Assembly was the DP’s stronghold.
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said the looming changes in the National Assembly leadership and committees are part of a “normal house cleaning process”.
“We just have to clean house. I cannot comment about a reshuffle because it is the prerogative of the President and his sole responsibility to do whatever he wants to do in his government in terms of restructuring,” Mr Tuju said.
Political analyst Herman Manyora said whatever is happening — the talk of a government of national unity, post-election agreements and pushing Ruto allies out of the system — is part of the wider game plan to ensure that President Kenyatta gains total control of the State.
“It’s no longer a secret that the President and his deputy are fighting, and therefore, these agreements must be signed quickly to ensure that Ruto is completely decapitated, and they must do so quickly,” Mr Manyora said Friday.
He added: “If they don’t do it and opt for half measures, there is fear that the DP could spring a surprise. They have already shown him the knife and thus the President must go full throttle against Ruto and his people because anything can come from them.”
Mr Manyora further stated that such agreements are necessary because they step in the void left by the BBI team after the Covid-19 pandemic struck, bringing to a halt government plans to amend the constitution.
“It is all about the game of numbers,” he said. “If you want to form a government of national unity you need the numbers, hence the agreement,” he added, noting that the agreements help to strengthen the President in the face of a Jubilee falling-out.
Panic has reigned in the Cabinet, with CSs and PSs whose dockets are tainted by corruption worried that they will be among the first casualties of the new order.
A source privy to the looming changes told us that President Kenyatta, keen not to be seen as targeting ministers from the DP’s backyard, plans to effect wide-ranging changes that could see even CSs from his Central turf also dropped.
The appointments, expected to bring in new faces, will require a “friendly” House to approve.
On Wednesday, former Bomet Governor and Chama cha Mashinani party leader Isaac Ruto was at State House as part of consensus-building on the outlook of the next Cabinet. During the talks, he is said to have been offered a slot in Cabinet.
ODM, which is also angling for the prime jobs, is at the same time pushing for development projects in its strongholds.
Two Fridays ago, CSs Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Ukur Yatani (Treasury), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Peter Munya (Agriculture), James Macharia (Infrastructure) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health) met with Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, ODM Chairman John Mbadi, National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi at Harambee House.
A source present at the meeting disclosed that they identified a number of projects to be implemented before the next polls.
Before it was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the BBI Steering Committee had just completed a series of public consultations, with high expectations that some of its recommendations would require a referendum to actualise.
According to a notice published in January in the Kenya Gazette, the committee is expected to submit its comprehensive advice to President Kenyatta by June 30, 2020.
The source confirmed that the committee is working to beat the deadline.
With the President insistent that the main challenge facing the country is the winner-takes-all electoral set-up, it is a given that a referendum will be on the cards to expand the structure of the government.
The current structure of the Executive is too restrictive to accommodate the many interests that have so far signed agreements with the President.
A wide support for the referendum achieves several things. Apart from expanding the structure, and thus creating positions, it ensures an uncontested referendum and with it, national stability.
Having sensed danger, a number of MPs, especially the nominated ones who did not heed President Kenyatta’s call to attend the State House meeting, are toeing the line.
“I do hereby endorse resolutions of the said PG (party group meeting),” Nominated Senator Gona Zawadi said in a letter to Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata.
Her counterpart from Marsabit, Naomi Waqo, followed suit: “I would like to state that my loyalty lies with our Head of State and Party Leader, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta. I stand by and I am guided by his decisions in all matters affecting our Party and our Great Nation.”
Mr Kenyatta, who for a long period avoided calling a PG for fear of possible embarrassment as most of the lawmakers were seen to be pro-Ruto, is now buoyed by the “Senate experiment”.
A number of MPs allied to the DP have confessed to switching camps for their political survival.
“Why would I lose my job for a man I’m not even sure will be the next president? It’s not worth it,” one of them said.