President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto broke with tradition on Tuesday by parading four Cabinet Secretary nominees whose names they forwarded to Parliament for approval.
True to their campaign promises, they picked fresh faces from outside the political arena, nominating newcomers from the private sector, international organisations and top cream civil servants to make the first part of their Cabinet.
It was also a break with tradition as the President and his deputy, dressed casually in shirt sleeves and identical red ties, surprisingly unveiled just the first four of the expected 18-member Cabinet, promising to conclude the full team in due course.
Mr Henry Rotich, the Macroeconomics head at the Ministry of Finance, was named the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, as Dr Fred Matiangi, the current Chief of Party of the Parliamentary Strengthening Project run by the State University of New York (Suny) was nominated as the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT).
Mr James Wainaina Macharia was fished from NIC Bank, where he was the managing director, and nominated Cabinet Secretary for Health, while Ms Amina Mohamed, an assistant secretary-general at the United Nations and Unep’s deputy executive director, was handed the challenging task of Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
President Kenyatta said he will not name the full Cabinet but “few names” for the National Assembly Committee on Appointments to start vetting. The 28-member committee was set up on Tuesday.
Breaking with tradition
“This is an ongoing process. The parliamentary team has been appointed and should start working immediately. The Constitution and the law requires that we forward the names for approval.
“Our commitment is to put in place a team that cannot just deliver on the Jubilee manifesto, but transform the nation of Kenya and ensure Kenya takes her place in the world. We will give you men and women of high integrity,” he said.
Stating that they were breaking with the tradition of announcing the names of the nominees in absentia, President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto paraded the proposed Cabinet Secretaries, cited their background and qualifications, family information and invited them to say a few words.
The nominees were part of dozens the President said they have been interviewing for the past fortnight.
First to be named was Dr Matiangi, most recently involved in a Suny-United States Aid Agency (USaid) programme helping to modernise Parliament.
The nominee expressed his delight at being nominated and promised to take the ICT sector in the country to a higher level.
“I thank you for affording me opportunity to join a dynamic Jubilee team. I promises to work together with the team and make our contribution. Together we will implement the Jubilee manifesto especially in the ICT set-up and move the country to the next stage in ICT development,” he said.
Second was Mr Rotich, the Cabinet Secretary nominee for the National Treasury, the docket which President Kenyatta served in the former government.
Citing the nominee’s CV, President Kenyatta said Mr Rotich was the head of Macroeconomics at the Treasury, a post that required him to take part in budget planning, and strategic coordination in areas of fiscal and financial management.
Mr Rotich has previously served at the Central Bank of Kenya, seconded to the World Bank locally and served the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
He thanked President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto for the nomination, promising to spearhead the country’s Treasury.
“I thank you for the trust and confidence you have placed in me to spearhead economic management of the country,” he said.
Third came Mr Macharia who despite being a banker by profession, was handed the task of leading the Ministry of Health.
He promised to take on challenges posed by health sector. “I have encountered very challenging situations, but I believe with determination nothing can fail. I know health is different from banking, but with team work, we will achieve a lot,” he said.
Take on challenges
Ms Mohamed, the only female nominee of the four, was the last to be paraded as the Cabinet Secretary designate for Foreign Affairs.
“It is a great honour to serve this great country in this unique position. I am greatly honoured and humbled,” Ms Mohammed said.
On their decision to start with only four nominees, President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto pleaded with Kenyans to be patient as they went through dozens of CVs and talked with prospective candidates.