• Uhuru met with Ruto on Wednesday last week
• Uhuru ordered CSs from Mt Kenya to stop the secret meetings and should need be, they should be held within the existing structures
President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed Cabinet Secretaries from Mt Kenya region to stop their night meetings at Hotel La Mada.
Deputy President William Ruto's allies welcomed the decision but challenged the President to crack the whip on those who have been attending the meetings.
In a move aimed at quelling the unease in his ruling Jubilee Party, Uhuru directed that all government meetings “must be held within existing structures”.
The President is said to have asked the CSs to work within the various Cabinet sub-committees and involve elected leaders in "all matters related to development."
The directive, according to sources within Jubilee, is as a result of the meeting between Uhuru and Ruto last week.
“It was one of their top agenda when they met last week at State House. It was a concern to them that the meeting was distracting the government. They had to make a decision; you will see more action being taken against some senior people in government,” a highly placed source in the Presidency told the Star.
Uhuru, in addition, is said to have instructed that all Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and other senior government officials work within the confines of Executive Order No. 1 of 2019 issued in January.
There is also a technical team chaired by Interior PS Karanja Kibicho deputised by his National Treasury counterpart Kamau Thugge.
Also established under the Executive Order are Regional and County Development Implementation Committees to be chaired by Regional and County Commissioners. With the Executive Order, Uhuru established a four-tier structure with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i as the head of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.
A claim that in one such meeting the issue of “eliminating” Ruto had come up has sowed a seed of discord in the Cabinet and is said to be part of the reason that for three consecutive weeks, there have been no Cabinet meetings.
It was not clear by last evening if Uhuru will today chair the Cabinet meeting at State House with some sources saying only a sub-Cabinet will meet to review the status of roads and infrastructure.
When the Ruto camp alleged that Cabinet Secretaries Peter Munya (Trade), Sicily Kariuki (Health) and Joe Mucheru (ICT), among other top government officials, have been holding secret meetings to plan the DP's assassination, the President is said to have ordered the National Intelligence Service to furnish him with the agenda of the meetings.
And before the Wednesday meeting at State House, the NIS briefed the President that indeed the meetings were not purely development but “2022 succession politics was part of the agenda”.
The CSs, who presented themselves for questioning at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters on June 24, maintain that the meetings are aimed at ensuring that development in Mt region is well-coordinated.
“There is nothing sinister for people from a particular region to have a meeting. People from Central, like all other people in this country, are entitled to development and government services,” Munya, who spoke on behalf of the government officials, said.
The former Meru governor had, however, vowed to press on with the meetings saying they have constitutional liberty to meet.
“Indeed we had a meeting at La Mada and we will continue having meetings because the Constitution allows freedom of association and expression. We are allowed to meet as long as they (meetings) are not to plan any criminal activity,” he said.
Yesterday the Star could not get a comment from Munya. He did not answer our calls.
Ruto allies described Uhuru's directive “as one in the right direction that will bring unity in government”.
They, however, asked the President to disband the Cabinet, saying that with the infighting, no development will be achieved.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa said the President should weed out politicking CSs and PSs as the secretive meetings had nothing to do with development.
“If there is such a directive by the President I would fully support it as our developmental matters like those of the rest of the country should be canvassed openly and in broad daylight not in hotel basements at night. Such meetings, if indeed they are about development, should be inclusive of elected leaders both at national and county level,” he told the Star.
He added: “From the emotive reactions by one CS and one PS, it is quite clear that they had another motive other than development and mine would be to ask those in the public service who want to dabble in politics to stop sabotaging the President’s agenda by involving themselves in politics.”
The second term legislator said the officials should focus on the Big Four Agenda and those interested in politics should relinquish their executive positions to face off with Ruto.
“The two officials who are preoccupied and obsessed with the 'stop Ruto' movement can quit their public offices and wait for 2022 to face Ruto on the ballot. But they should not use their state/public offices to wage useless political battles using state institutions,” he said.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, who also chairs the Senate Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee, was blunt. He said the President “should make a bold move and reconstitute the Cabinet”.
Cherargei said there are some “self-entitled Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries who have no idea how we campaigned” for Uhuru and Ruto to win the 2017 presidential election.
“The Cabinet is a symbol of national unity and they should serve all Kenyans. It is the best decision that the President has made; such individuals who meet secretly to plan murder and backbite others should not have a place in Jubilee government that is founded on unity and development for all,” he said.
“Some of them are known where they were in 2017 and when they were brought into government, they came in with politics. Those interested in politics should quit or the President be bold and kick them out of government,” he added.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said there was a reason why the Constitution was against the inclusion of politicians in Cabinet. He said it is shameful that “the technocrats are now at the centre of succession politics”.
Koech said: “It is a proper directive from the President and I even think he should go a step further and make them show cause why they should not be liable for disciplinary action.”
He further noted: “What is so secret with government services that its officers have to resort to secret night meetings at basements of high-end hotels? Every ministry and state department has a furnished boardroom suitable for holding meetings if at all space is what they needed.”
Koech said despite the President's directive, the DCI should proceed and question the government officials. They should not be used for political reasons.
“They have gone ahead and arrested Dennis Itumbi. So far no one has recorded statements from those who attended the meetings. Those who have been attending the meetings have owned up. What else do they want? The DP to record the statement?” he asked.
“My plea is that state officers stick to professionalism and do things with transparency as required of them by the code of ethics and the oath they took,” he added.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who has said he initiated the meetings for the sake of development in Mt Kenya, said any meeting aimed to address development agenda should not be stopped.
“There is nothing wrong with leaders meeting to discuss development. The Deputy President (William Ruto) on Tuesday met with the leadership of some counties. What is wrong when those from Mt Kenya meet? I will defend these meetings,” Kuria said.