Powerful Uhuru regime officials fall as Ruto builds his administration
The regime change in the country continues to claim more casualties, including powerful individuals who served in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.
President William Ruto, who fell out with his former boss when he served as Deputy President has been purging senior State officials, even as the opposition insists that public officers should not be victims of succession politics.
Senior public servants and state operatives as well as parastatal heads who served in the previous regime have been replaced as the Head of State crafts his government.
This comes even as the former President continues to enjoy the trappings of power by virtue of his former office, and current work in regional peace processes. After his swearing-in on September 13, President Ruto named Mr Kenyatta as the peace envoy for the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, leading regional peace interventions on behalf of the Kenyan government.
As the former Head of State got a soft landing, some of his key lieutenants have become victims as President Ruto rewards loyalists with key positions.
The purge, which is expected to turn to the country’s envoys, has caused panic among former appointees of Mr Kenyatta, with some officials opting to retire or resign before their necks are laid on the chopping board.
Top on the list of Mr Kenyatta’s allies now pushed out is former Kenya Revenue Authority board chairperson and ex-Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, former chairperson of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Lewis Nguyai, former chairperson of the National Council for Population and Development board David Ngugi and ex-chairperson of the board of Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) Rita Achieng’ Okuthe.
In the recent parastatal changes, former Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau was appointed by the President to replace Mr Nguyai, an ally of Mr Kenyatta as the chairperson of the NHIF board.
Former Kenya Defence Forces chief of defence forces Gen (Rtd) Julius Karangi replaced Mr Ngugi at the National Council for Population and Development.
At the Kenya Wildlife Service, Lt Gen (Rtd) Walter Koipaton replaced Gen (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana whose term expired.
At Kenya Power, lawyer Joy Brenda Masinde replaced Ms Vivienne Yeda at the helm of the board. Ms Yeda was pushed out at the behest of National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u.
Former Nyamira Governor Walter Nyambati was picked to head the Geothermal Development Corporation. The board was previously headed by Gerishom Otachi, who was in 2019 picked to head the National Lands Commission.
Ruto's men and women
President Ruto, at the same time, elevated Ms Faith Boinett to chair the KPC board, replacing Ms Okuthe.
Former Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) board chairman Gilbert Kibe resigned and was replaced by President Ruto’s confidante, Ms Mary Wambui.
Mr Kibe, a former Director-General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority who was moved to CA before the current regime replaced him, had run-ins with President Ruto over the land on which the Head of State’s Weston Hotel sits.
Yesterday, he told the Nation that he “made a personal decision to resign”, even though some sources intimated that he could have been pushed out.
At the level of the political appointment—those picked as Cabinet secretaries and Principal secretaries whose term ends with each regime, but which could be extended—key allies of the former Head of State who were at the centre of the anti-Ruto campaign have also been affected.
Only two CSs (Simon Chelugui, now at the Cooperatives ministry, and Dr Monica Juma as National Security Advisor) and six PSs were retained.
Other appointees who are licking their wounds following President Ruto’s victory include former Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, ex-Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, ex-Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, former CSs Joe Mucheru (ICT), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence) and former powerful PSs Nelson Marwa, Nicholas Muraguri, Torome Saitoti and Gordon Kihalangwa.
Yesterday, Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, who wielded immense powers in the immediate former regime even though he held no official state position, told the Nation that they have nothing to worry about as the current administration was already sinking due to its failure to address its pre-election pledges. He said that some of the former government officials have even had their security withdrawn or trimmed, but “that does not dim our spirit”.
“We have three arms of government including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and our supporters must not feel left out of government. Parliament, for example, is a powerful arm of government and our people should make use of it to address their plight, as well as tap into the devolved units,” Mr Murathe said.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga, the runner-up in the August 9 elections, has censured the Head of State over what he terms as sacking and deliberate pushing out of civil servants.
Mr Odinga has, in particular, taken issue with the move by the President to dismiss PSs who served in President Kenyatta’s government, arguing they are civil servants who should not be treated as politicians.
“PSs are civil servants who need not to be sacked. It is unfortunate that Ruto has sent all of them packing and employed 51 others, mostly his cronies, showing a very bad picture of ethnic imbalance,” he said at a recent public event in Nairobi.
Mr Kinoti became the first casualty of the new regime as the President moved to disband the Special Service Unit over claims of extra-judicial killings. Even though the President announced receiving his resignation as well as that of Mr Mutyambai (on health grounds), sources have intimated that the Head of State had no confidence in working with them in the critical security docket.
“William Ruto’s grudge against George Kinoti and the DCI started way before elections. Ruto appears to believe that the coming of the UDA regime is a perfect mandate for him to punish the officers he long had a grudge against. We are here to say no,” Mr Odinga claimed in a statement as he defended Mr Kinoti last month.
At the height of the election results storm after President Ruto was declared the winner, Deputy Inspector of Police Noor Gabow was named by the National Police Service as the acting IG after Mr Mutyambai was reportedly taken ill.
Dr Matiang’i, Dr Kibicho and Mr Mucheru, who all sat on the multi-agency team on election preparedness ahead of the August polls by virtue of their offices, openly supported Mr Odinga. Mr Mucheru has defended his move to back Mr Odinga, insisting that he has no regrets and arguing that his support for the ODM leader was important not only as a civic duty, but also at a personal level because of his relationship with President Kenyatta.
“I would not regret participating in campaigns and politics, not at all. One, I am a Kenyan citizen, and as an individual and as a minister I have a say in where things are going,” Mr Mucheru told Citizen TV in an interview on Saturday.
“But at a personal level, I was appointed to this government by President Uhuru Kenyatta. It would be the highest level of betrayal if I didn’t support him,” he added.