William Ruto's tough balancing act on Cabinet
President-elect William Ruto is facing Herculean task in crafting a cabinet that is representative of the country without reneging on pre-election agreements in the face of pressure to reward loyalists.
Sunday Nation has learnt that Dr Ruto is expected to unveil members of his Cabinet within the week after his inauguration on Tuesday as the fifth President at Kasarani Stadium.
Already, some of his close allies, who have been with him in the campaign trenches, are angling for the limited Cabinet Secretary slots that is capped at 22 amid rush by some opposition politicians to join Kenya Kwanza Alliance with an eye on plum government appointments.
Some of the elected Members of Parliament are reportedly considering quitting their positions to join the Executive, to play bigger roles in the new administration. Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kandara MP Alice Wahome are some of the lawmakers our sources said were contemplating joining the Cabinet.
The scramble for positions has also seen Johnny-come-latelies, politicians who were allied to Mr Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja but have since changed allegiance, parade themselves for photo sessions with Dr Ruto at his official Karen residence in an attempt to win his favours for possible appointment.
At the same time, some current members of the Cabinet, among them Najib Balala (Tourism), are quietly lobbying to be part of the next administration. “I am happy and humbled and thank President Kenyatta for giving me the chance to serve the nation. I welcome President Ruto; I am ready to serve in his government whenever it’s necessary,” Mr Balala, who first joined the Cabinet in 2003, posted on social media.
The developments and the promise to hand women 50 per cent of the Cabinet have placed Dr Ruto on the horns of a dilemma as he seeks to start governing without cries of betrayal.
Nandi senator Samson Cherargei yesterday told Sunday Nation that those serving in the current administration should give space to new faces. He said individuals who were “used to humiliate” Dr Ruto should not expect any appointments. “Those in the current Cabinet are not on the priority list. They have served their time and should call it a day. There are many Kenyans with better capacity. We will go for loyalty, loyalty and loyalty; those who sacrificed for the cause.
“They have to be loyal to the President, government and people of Kenya. Those who participated in his humiliation when he served as DP will have no room in this government,” he said.
A number of names have since been mentioned as possible appointees to the Cabinet and key positions, including principal secretaries and parastatal heads.
To reward his loyalists, including losers in the concluded polls, the positions of Chief Administration Secretary, controversially created in the Jubilee administration’s second term, are an option that Dr Ruto could consider. The High Court last year declared them unconstitutional.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said those joining Kenya Kwanza after the polls should not expect miracles to happen for them to be in the Cabinet. He said they will not allow those who opposed the “hustler narrative” to be the ones seeking to implement it. “The fact that some people have come for a photo shooting does not mean they will get appointments. The jobs will be given on meritocracy while considering the diversity of the country,” said Mr Barasa.
Those expected in the new Cabinet include Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who is to be Prime CS. Former National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi, who dropped his presidential bid to back Dr Ruto, is also angling for a slot. It is the same case for former Tharaka Nithi senator Kindiki Kithure, who nearly became Dr Ruto’s running mate, before he was sidestepped in favour of Rigathi Gachagua.
Former governors Salim Mvurya, Josphat Nanok and Alfred Mutua have also stepped up their lobbying to join the Cabinet, as has UDA national Chairman Johnson Muthama. Also angling for slots are former CS Charles Keter and former Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. Some of the individuals are literally camping at Dr Ruto’s official Karen residence given the competing interests at play.
Other loyalists angling for plum appointments are Davis Chirchir, Dr Belio Kipsang and Felix Koskei. Mr Chirchir, who was kicked out of office in 2015 over corruption allegations but was never charged, made a comeback to government early this year as chief of staff in the Deputy President’s office. From Kisii, Charles Nyachae and former MP Ezekiel Machogu are also seeking to catch the eye of Dr Ruto.