PSs stay put in former dockets six weeks after Cabinet shuffle

Drs Monica Juma and Karanja Kibicho yet to swap Foreign Affairs and Interior offices

Saturday January 9 2016

Principal Secretaries Dr Monica Juma (left) and Dr Karanja Kibicho at Nyayo National Stadium during Jamhuri Day Celebrations on December 12,2015. Six weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled the Cabinet and swapped the Interior and Foreign Affairs principal secretaries, the two officials are still in their respective ministries. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL |

Principal Secretaries Dr Monica Juma (left) and Dr Karanja Kibicho at Nyayo National Stadium during Jamhuri Day Celebrations on December 12,2015. Six weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled the Cabinet and swapped the Interior and Foreign Affairs principal secretaries, the two officials are still in their respective ministries. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Six weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled the Cabinet and swapped Interior and Foreign Affairs principal secretaries, the two officials are still in their respective ministries.

Saturday Nation has learnt that the swapping of dockets between Dr Monica Juma, the Interior PS, and Dr Karanja Kibicho, her Foreign Affairs counterparts, has been postponed on two occasions, triggering questions as to whether it will happen at all.

In December, the Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua had directed that the transfer of the two be postponed when Kenya was holding the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Karanja Kibicho led the Kenyan delegation to the conference because Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed was to chair the discussions.

HANDOVER DELAYED

This week, sources intimated that Mr Kinyua instructed the two ministries to put handover ceremonies on ice – again.

The two PSs were scheduled to be introduced to departmental heads at both Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries in the morning and afternoon of Wednesday respectively, but the event was cancelled last minute.

On Friday evening, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu stuck to the earlier explanation that the two officials were retained in their offices because Kenya was hosting the World Trade Organisation, a conference whose organising partly lay on the shoulders of Dr Kibicho.

(READ: The intrigues of Uhuru’s changes to the Cabinet)

“The PS (Karanja Kibicho) had the WTO, which he was allowed to work on. Then he went for Christmas holidays like everyone else,” Mr Esipisu told Saturday Nation on phone.

“As soon as he is back from holiday, he will move to the Interior Ministry.”

But even as Mr Esipisu spoke, Dr Kibicho was in his old office meeting with Chinese Foreign Affairs Special Representative on UN Affairs Mr Yang Tao. Mr Tao paid him a visit with Chinese Ambassador to Nairobi, Dr Liu Xianfa.

FROSTY RELATIONS

Sources within the ministry yesterday intimated that Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohammed may not be keen to work with Ms Juma.

Though politicians wanted her out of the Interior ministry, the CS is said to be resisting the move, arguing the PS is difficult to work with.

An Interior PS is the senior most Principal Secretary in the pecking order.

She is entitled to a chase car, is guarded by five police officers, besides having security cars.

She enjoys a direct hotline to the President and does not need an appointment to walk into his office.

The Saturday Nation contacted Ms Mohammed, Dr Juma and Dr Karanja Kibicho but none of them responded to our inquiries by the time we went to press.

POSTPONEMENT

During last month’s end-of-year party for the Interior Ministry, CS Nkaissery told staff that she may remain in the ministry for longer, probably until June this year.

He argued that her security docket is sensitive and that the handover would be a lengthy process.

Other sources say Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery is reluctant to let her go, especially after the two established a good working relationship that has seen them turn-around the image of the ministry, which faced accusations of incompetence amidst terror attacks.

A former PS in the Defence and Interior portfolios, Dr Juma’s move to Foreign Ministry was intended to shore up President Kenyatta’s geopolitical clout as he builds his economic and regional integration foreign policy.

Dr Juma is an experienced diplomat who served as Kenya’s envoy in the African Union, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

She was supposed to buttress Ms Mohamed’s efforts, though some analysts had argued that the fact that two were both powerful could complicate their working relationship.

Dr Kibicho is a Mechanical Engineer who spent most of his time lecturing at Universities in Kenya and South Africa.

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