William Ruto Cabinet: President prefers politicians, rather than technocrats

William Ruto's Cabinet.

President William Ruto's Cabinet.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto is banking on a Cabinet of politicians to deliver his “Hustler Nation” agenda, a marked departure from the Jubilee administration of Uhuru Kenyatta that favoured technocrats.

This as Mt Kenya region, which brought to the fold 42 per cent of the 7.1 million votes Dr Ruto secured to win the presidency in the first attempt bagged seven Cabinet slots, a third of the executive positions, as well as the Attorney-General’s post.

However, the President failed to meet one critical campaign pledge to reserve 11 cabinet positions for women as only seven made it to the 22-member Cabinet whose nominees he announced yesterday at State House in Nairobi.

President Ruto names new Cabinet

Acknowledging his humiliation as Deputy President in the second half of the Jubilee government’s 10-year tenure, when he was largely ignored by his then boss, President Ruto signed an executive order granting his deputy, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, express roles, listing seven duties including chairing Cabinet committees.

Dr Ruto rewarded Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi with the prime cabinet secretary position in fulfilment of the pre-election coalition deal he struck with the former vice-president, who, alongside National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, had abandoned former prime minister Raila Odinga, Dr Ruto’s main challenger in the August presidential election.

Third in command 

In the post, which ranks him the third in command in the executive, Mr Mudavadi will assist the President and Deputy President in the coordination and supervision of government ministries. However, he does not have a substantive ministerial docket, although the President’s line-up left out the devolution docket.

President Ruto named his point persons in the August 9 presidential campaigns to plum positions with Garissa Town MP Aden Duale bagging the sensitive Defence docket, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen walking away with the lucrative Roads, Transport and Public Works while Kandara MP Alice Wahome was rewarded with the Water, Irrigation and Irrigation ministry.

This will occasion by-elections as the three will have to resign their parliamentary seats to take up the Cabinet posts upon successful vetting by Parliament. 

Aisha Jumwa, Moses Kuria clinch plum CS jobs

Another by-election is planned for the Bungoma Senate seat to replace Mr Wetang’ula.

Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will also nominate another person to the Senate to replace nominated Senator Soipan Tuya, who has been named Environment and Forestry CS.

She is serving her third term in Parliament having first been elected Narok Woman Rep in 2013. Other politicians rewarded for campaigning for Dr Ruto are Maendeleo Chap Chap leader Dr Alfred Mutua (Foreign and Diaspora Affairs), Mr Eliud Owalo (Information, Communication and the Digital Economy), and ex-Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya who was nominated to the Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs docket. Bypassed during the picking of a running mate in favour of Mr Gachagua, the former Tharaka Nithi senator, Professor Kithure Kindiki, has landed the powerful Interior and National Administration ministry.

This, despite the former Senate Deputy Speaker having said he will not be available for any appointive position in government after missing out on the running mate position in the run-up to the elections.

In rewarding loyalists who stood by him during the campaigns, Dr Ruto welcomed election losers to his Cabinet with 2022 gubernatorial race losers Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi), Moses Kuria (Kiambu) and Mithika Linturi (Meru) appointed to Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action; Trade, Investment and Industry and Agriculture and Livestock Development ministries, respectively.

Ruto appoints Kindiki as Interior Cabinet Secretary

They are joined in the list by Mr Ezekiel Machogu (Kisii governorship) as the Education CS nominee and Ms Florence Bore (Labour and Social Protection ministry). Ms Bore, Kericho County Woman Rep in the 12th Parliament, lost in UDA nominations to Beatrice Kemei, the only lawmaker elected unopposed in the 2022 polls.

The appointments of Ms Jumwa and Mr Linturi, however, could see the President face criticism for bringing into his cabinet individuals facing criminal charges. Dr Ruto’s Chief of Staff Davis Chirchir made a comeback to the Energy and Petroleum position he held in the first term of the Jubilee administration. If confirmed, he will take over at a time the country is grappling with sky-rocketing fuel prices and the fuel subsidy headache.

President Ruto also retained ex-President Kenyatta appointees in his cabinet including former Labour CS Simon Chelugui who is the Co-operatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development nominee. The Head of State created this ministry to implement the ambitious Sh50 billion Hustler Fund that is intended to help small scale traders access cheap credit, a key plank of his campaign.

 Ex-Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba has been promoted to head the Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts docket.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) Chief Executive Rebecca Miano has been elevated to a CS in the Ministry of East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development.

Ms Miano is joined by ex-Energy and Petroleum CS Monica Juma who has been named National Security Advisor as part of Cabinet-level portfolios announced by the Head of State. 

Ms Mercy Wanjau, Communication Authority of Kenya boss, also landed the secretary to the cabinet position.

Rounding off the Cabinet-level appointments are former National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi as the new Attorney-General and former Law Society of Kenya vice-president and ANC legal advisor Hariette Chiggai as women’s rights advisor.

Surprise entries into the Cabinet include former Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u as National Treasury and Planning secretary.

The 62-year-old economist is taking over the critical docket at a time when Kenya is faced with runaway public debt, inflation and high cost of living.

Prof Ndung’u is joined by Nakuru sub-county administrator Zachariah Mwangi Njeru, who has been designated as Lands, Housing and Urban Development CS, Susan Nakhumicha (Health), and Penina Malonza (Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage).

The names will now be forwarded to Parliament for vetting and approval by the Committee on Appointments chaired by Mr Wetang’ula, the House Speaker.

The President described the new team as the men and women he is banking on to help him deliver the Kenya Kwanza Alliance manifesto, adding that other appointments will follow in due course.

“We appreciate we have a difficult economic situation on our hands but I am confident that, working with this team, we will overcome all the challenges that are there,” the President said.

The Head of State also cracked the whip in the security docket, with the exit of security chiefs he largely attacked during the campaign period for being partisan.

Dr Ruto further announced that Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai had applied to proceed on terminal leave for the remaining six months of his contract, due to health problems.

“I have accepted that he proceeds on terminal leave and once I conclude my consultations with the Head of Public Service, the name of the new inspector-general of police will be released,” he said.

He later named Mr Japheth Koome, the commandant of Police Training College, Kiganjo to the position.

The Commander in Chief also announced the resignation of Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti.

“I have [communicated Mr Kinoti’s resignation] to the National Police Service [and directed them] to proceed with advertising for that [vacancy] and, meanwhile, they should get someone to act in the place of Mr Kinoti,” the President said.

Yesterday, the appointments drew varied reactions. 

“I will serve the people of Kenya with greatest humility and utmost dedication to ensure we achieve our development plan,” Mr Murkomen said.

“He [Duale] is a loyalist and a man who has stood with the President for a very long time. 

He is also the beacon and centrepiece of the Muslim community. The President has the interest of the pastoralist community at heart,” said Fafi MP Farah Salah on the appointment of Mr Duale.

“I express my gratitude to the President for the confidence he has shown in me by assigning me to steer and transform this pivotal sector that is critical to the development of our economy,” said Mr Owalo.

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