Deputy President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza Alliance team have been accused of doublespeak and hypocrisy over proposals to create senior positions in the Cabinet after the August 9 elections.
Dr Ruto, who vehemently opposed plans to create the seat of Prime Minister and two deputies through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), has proposed the creation of what he calls a Prime Cabinet Secretary position, which is reportedly reserved for ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Mr Mudavadi, who initially backed the BBI, changed tune after joining Dr Ruto’s camp. The ANC leader once told a BBI panel that having an executive prime minister serving under an elected President would be akin to creating two centres of power. He said a prime minister should be appointed by the President from his or her political party.
“If Kenya is to create the office of the prime minister, it should be in a structure that will not have any filibustering lest you create a bureaucracy that will not function,” he said.
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But the Kenya Kwanza camp insists what they have earmarked for Mr Mudavadi is a non-executive post, though it seems to come with considerable powers, including supervisory control of the Cabinet.
Were Dr Ruto to win the presidential election, Mr Mudavadi, would be tasked with coordination and supervision of national government functions, besides overseeing implementation of national government policies and programmes.
Mr Mudavadi would also be expected to chair and coordinate the government’s legislative agenda across all ministries and state departments in consultation with Kenya Kwanza leaders in Parliament.
“Within 30 days following the General Election, the coalition shall introduce in Parliament legislation that shall provide greater clarity on the position, roles and functions of the Prime Cabinet Secretary. The legislation so introduced shall amend the National Government Coordination Act of 2013 to include the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary and incorporate and align the functions,” reads the coalition’s agreement.
Critics of the DP say he has morphed from the fiercest critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pet project, BBI, to its potential beneficiary.
However, the DP maintains that the focus of Kenya Kwanza is not about sharing positions but how to improve the lives of Kenyans.
“Our competitors want to change the constitution to create positions for leaders. That can wait as we deal with issues affecting Kenyans and revive the economy. We have agreed to come together, not to share positions,” said DP Ruto on Thursday.
As he criss-crosses the country promoting his bottom-up economic approach, the DP seems to have realised that he has to dangle key positions to senior politicians in order to get their support in his quest for power.
So critical is the need to have influential associates in key positions that it is said to be what tilted the scales in favour of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua in the Kenya Kwanza running mate race.
Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki had reportedly emerged top in both internal polls and in a physical vote taken by Mt Kenya MPs allied to Dr Ruto.
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Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, who supports Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga, yesterday accused Dr Ruto of engaging in “deceitful politics”.
Mr Wambugu said it was hypocritical of the DP to oppose President Kenyatta’s Executive Order Number 1 of 2019, under which Dr Fred Matiang’i was appointed chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, yet he intends to do the same if he is elected.
“Ruto has complained that he has nothing to do as Deputy President because his work was taken over by the super Cabinet Secretary office created by the President. Now, he has proposed a super Cabinet Secretary for his proposed government,” said the MP.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said what the kenya Kwanza team does and says in public contradicts the deals they cut in boardrooms, while pretending to care about ordinary citizens.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said: “They say one thing and convince the public that they are honest. But in actual fact, their claims are a mixture of sense and political nonsense.”
Reviving the economy
But Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa says the Kenya Kwanza agreement does not mean they have deviated from their main cause of reviving the economy.
United Democratic Alliance Secretary-General Veronica Maina claimed the decision by Mr Odinga to nominate Ms Martha Karua as running mate and as Justice and Constitutional Affairs Cabinet Secretary was a scheme to reintroduce BBI.
“What I see in Martha becoming Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Constitutional Affairs is thematic focus of Azimio being constitutional amendment. It’s a revival of the BBI or constitution-making because they think that is the issue that affects Kenyans,” said Ms Maina.
As he announced his decision to walk out of Azimio and run for the country’s top seat, it turned out that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka had been offered the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary.
The former Vice-President, however, said what had beenb offered was a weak version of what it should be.