Cabinet changes inevitable, Uhuru allies say

Changes to bring on board experienced hands to drive legacy agenda

In Summary
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta's allies now say an overhaul of the Cabinet is inevitable to deliver his agenda.
  • The President has ordered all Cabinet Secretaries to proceed on a 10-day recess, starting on Monday - a 'working recess'.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and the cabinet during a past meeting.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and the cabinet during a past meeting.
Image: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta's allies say an overhaul of the Cabinet is inevitable to drive his agenda, lending credence reports of a looming purge.

The President has already ordered all Cabinet Secretaries to proceed on a 10-day recess, starting on Monday. The move has triggered further speculation the President is planning far-reaching changes to the Executive.

Speculation about Cabinet changes has been around for some time. Some allies of ODM leader Raila Odinga have quietly questioned how they have benefited from the handshake between the two leaders on March 9, 2018.

However, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua on Sunday downplayed the speculation, saying the President has confidence in members of his Cabinet.

“The head of state and government remains steadfast in his confidence in the membership of and capacity of his Cabinet and the senior ranks of the Executive, as well as their collective ability to support the delivery of his agenda for the nation,” Kinyua said in a circular dated August 16.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu on Sunday gave the clearest indication yet that the President could use the Cabinet recess to make changes to his Executive. He is a key member of the Kieleweke faction of Jubilee.

He said as the President has continuously adjusted the operations of government to ensure it operates efficiently to achieve his objectives, the Cabinet would not be an exception.

“I expect he (the President) will continue to do that, even at the Cabinet level,” Ngunjiri said.

He said the President will be moving senior officers around and into dockets where he believes they add the most value towards delivering on his age

While Kinyua said the time off will give CSs an opportunity to connect with their families, given they don't enjoy annual leave, analysts say the President could crack the whip.

On Sunday, political analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star that previously, heads of state have used opportunities, even such as Christmas break, to fire and hire ministers.

“The timing of the break especially at a time the country is confronting the Covid-19 pandemic is suspect. This is the time Uhuru could overhaul the Cabinet,” Odhiambo said.

Former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett told the Star the President's Cabinet changes are long overdue.

“Time is not on the side of the President with two years to the next elections. Changes would re-engineer his Cabinet with special emphasis on experienced hands to help deliver on his agenda,” he said.

Bett, a State House comptroller during the Nyayo era, has said the President must get rid of ministers engaged in 2022 campaigning at the expense of his legacy projects.

On Sunday, ex-Mukweini MP Kabando Wa Kabando told the Star major changes in the Executive would be critical to enable the President tackle corruption that he said is roiling the Executive.

“First and most urgent, the agenda for our President is radical -  a swift clean-up of the entire face of government given corruption issues facing the Executive,"  Kabando said.

He has consistently warned that time is running out for the President and he reiterated that on Sunday. Kabando said that while reorganising government is important, the President must be told the truth.

“We who still support President Uhuru must be brutally honest and truthful to him. The country is bleeding. Looting is rising. It is time for true patriots to step forward and urge the President to mercilessly crack the whip,” Kabondo said.

He said the President's legacy will be determined by how he tackles corruption.

Former South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya, who is also the leader of the Kenya National Congress party, said it is high time that the President overhauled the Executive.

“Obviously, this is the time the President needs men and women who are committed to help him realise his objectives. A housecleaning is inevitable,” Nyamweya said.

There are reports the President will bring on board key allies of his political buddies to strengthen his government.

Raila's camp is said to be growing impatient and some allies are said to be urging him to  concentrate on rebuilding his ODM party in readiness for the 2022 polls.

Former Nairobi Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi is reportedly among those poised to land plum state jobs  in the shake-up.

In a surprise move, Elachi resigned from the chaos-plagued assembly last week, after previously saying she would stay put.

On Sunday, Kinyua said that during the working recess, Cabinet members will not have scheduled engagements.

" ...unless otherwise directed by the President for urgent business, cases of national emergency, or any other exceptional circumstances," he said.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta is convinced that short Cabinet working recess will enable the Cabinet to deliver on its mandate with renewed energy."

The recess will end on Augut 28.

 August 28, 2020.

(Edited by J. Muchangi)