President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, have taken charge of the appointment of their 22-member Cabinet, which they expect to finalise by the end of the week.
The firm gag on their aides and advisors, however, has not stopped politicians and technocrats from heightening lobbying for the positions of Cabinet and Principal secretaries and other key jobs in the offices of President and Deputy President under the incoming administration.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto will be sworn in next Tuesday after the Supreme Court cleared the way for them to take office in a judgment delivered on Saturday. Sources close to the two leaders yesterday said they will name the Cabinet on April 10 — a day after their swearing-in.
Appointments to key positions, including the Cabinet, are to be shared equally between The National Alliance (TNA), which sponsored Mr Kenyatta’s candidature and the United Republican Party (URP), which sponsored Mr Ruto.
The two parties signed a pre-election agreement that saw them come together as the Jubilee Coalition.
On Monday, MPs Kareke Mbiuki (Maara, TNA) and Aden Duale (Garissa Township, URP) said talks on the sharing of Cabinet slots have been confined to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.
“We have agreed as a team that the responsibility of discussing portfolios should not be a plenary issue, but one for the President and his Deputy to decide,” said Mr Mbiuki.
Mr Duale, who is expected to be appointed Majority Leader in Parliament, said the formation of the Cabinet had been delayed by the election petition filed by Cord’s Raila Odinga, who challenged the declaration of Mr Kenyatta as winner of the presidential election.
Attention on petition
“The issue of forming the Cabinet will begin tomorrow (Tuesday) because all the attention was on the petition. The two principals will begin work on it and it is expected that they will have completed their work by the end of the week,” Mr Duale said.
In its manifesto, the Jubilee Coalition promised to appoint fresh faces to the Cabinet determined by their qualifications and the energy to deliver on campaign pledges.
Even though they had earlier on agreed to leave out seasoned and aging politicians from their Cabinet line-up, it is now understood that they are likely to include a few to guide inexperienced appointees, who will be flying the flag for the first time.
“There are some of us who felt we need a brand new government free from the usual faces, but we have freed Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to do as they so wish but give us the best,” Mr Mbiuki said.
Cabinet ministers Charity Ngilu, Sam Ongeri, Eugene Wamalwa and former minister Najib Balala are being mentioned as some of the seasoned politicians who could make it to the 22-member Cabinet.
It was not clear whether Mr Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani Coalition will be included in the new government. At the weekend, the coalition gave Mr Mudavadi the green light to start negotiations with the Jubilee Coalition.
Those familiar with the evolving new line-up said that where TNA takes the ministerial position, URP will provide the principal secretary (equivalent to permanent secretary under the old order).
Regional and ethnic balance remain the key challenges as both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto craft the new line-up.
Mr Kibaki’s administration retained powerful dockets within the Mt Kenya region with the Security and Finance dockets dominated by ministers from Central Kenya throughout his 10-year tenure.
In Mt Kenya region, there is an increasing push for Mr Kenyatta’s attention pitting former Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi — now the Meru senator — and his Tharaka Nithi counterpart, Prof Kithure Kindiki.
The two are embroiled in a supremacy battle as both are angling for the position of Leader of Majority in the Senate.
Also seeking slots expected to be given to Central Kenya are Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau, outgoing Finance Minister Njeru Githae and outgoing head of Public Service Francis Kimemia.
In Nyanza, outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri is among those angling for a seat after he lost in the March 4 election.
Others are TNA secretary-general Onyango Oloo, former minister Raphael Tuju, former Rangwe MP Shem Ochuodho and Mrs Rosemary Rumo, who vied for a women’s representative seat in Homa Bay, but lost.
At the Coast, Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta will have to choose between outgoing Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Mr Balala.
In Western Kenya, Mr Kenyatta has the choice of Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wamalwa among the old guard and Ms Yvone Khamati as a potential newcomer.
In Rift Valley, where Mr Ruto’s URP dominated, outgoing Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio, Kericho senator Charles Keter and Mr Davis Chirchir — who served as a commissioner with the now disbanded Interim Independent Electoral Commission — are among those being considered.
Jubilee Coalition MPs and senators will meet this week to decide who will be nominated to the position and other parliamentary appointments.