Jostling for powerful positions in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration has gone a notch higher with names of possible nominees emerging and differences erupting in public.
Apart from Cabinet positions, the role of the Head of Public Service has attracted interest with Joseph Kinyua set to retire.
One surprise name being mentioned is that of former Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, who was among those sacked over corruption allegations in 2015.
Former Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, who now works as a presidential aide at State House, has also been tipped.
President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto will have a tough balancing act to undertake as they re-organise their government after taking their respective oaths on Tuesday.
The first stop will be at Cabinet level appointments where it is widely expected that only 10 Cabinet secretaries will retain their jobs with more than half of the 40 Principal Secretaries suffering the same fate.
That the President and his deputy will have a tough time managing expectations was evident Saturday when two leaders from Laikipia County rallied to the defence of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri after Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina called for his exclusion from the new cabinet.
While speaking at Lonyiek trading centre, Laikipia Senator John Kinyua and Laikipa North MP Sarah Korere said they were behind the CS.
Mr Maina had claimed that the political leadership in the Mt Kenya region had ganged up to reject Mr Kiunjuri’s reappointment.
At the height of the Jubilee Party primaries mid this year, President Kenyatta prevailed upon Mr Kiunjuri not to contest, saying he needed him in government, a statement many interpreted to mean that his Cabinet slot was assured.
But a section of the press yesterday quoted Mr Maina maintaining that the Mt Kenya leadership was resolute about the need for Mr Kiunjuri to be fired on grounds that he was dividing the region.
Mr Kenyatta will also have to fill vacancies in State parastatals and Kenyan missions abroad.
Currently, various parastatals have no chairmen while upto eight foreign missions do not have ambassadors or high commissioners.
During the campaigns, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto promised various leaders, especially those defecting from the opposition, top positions in government if he was re-elected.
Those who were promised jobs during many campaign stops the President made include former Meru Governor Peter Munya, former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Kitui Senator David Musila, and a host of other defectors from the Nasa strongholds of Coast, Western and Nyanza regions.
The tough balancing act comes in the wake of the realisation that Jubilee got elected members in all counties except Mombasa, Kilifi, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Siaya counties.
A region which is likely to reap big from government appointments is the former Western province where Jubilee got an unexpected high number of MPs.
Kakamega and Bungoma elected four Jubilee MPs each and this may prompt the president to reward them with either a cabinet position or PSs jobs.
Sources close to the Executive but who requested anonymity because they do not speak on President Kenyatta’s behalf revealed that less than half of the current Cabinet would be retained while the rest will be replaced due to poor service delivery.
Those said to be likely to be retained include Henry Rotich, Fred Matiang’i, Sicily Kariuki, Mwangi Kiunjuri, Willy Bett, Amina Mohammed and James Macharia. Others are Charles Keter, Najib Balala, Eugene Wamalwa and Joe Mucheru.
Those thought to be in danger of being kicked out include Hassan Wario, Jacob Kaimenyi, Cleopa Maillu and Raychelle Omamo. Also on the list are Judi Wakhungu, Adan Mohamed and Dan Kazungu.
Sources indicated that the President and the deputy president want to move with speed and forward the names of their nominees for the Cabinet slots for vetting and approval.
The Sunday Nation learnt that unlike in 2013 when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto went for the professional credentials of their would be appointees, they will this time round rely on past connections and proven track record.
The number of women CSs is likely to rise while the Jubilee strongholds of Mt Kenya and Rift Valley may have fewer members in the Cabinet to create room for appointees from opposition strongholds.
Some of the people who are tipped to join the Cabinet include former long serving nominated MP Amina Abdalla
The head of Public Service Commission (PSC) Margaret Kobia whose body will vet all PSs said she will gave an update on the exercise after Tuesday.
“Allow us to update you on the process of recommending persons for nomination to the position of PS after Tuesday,” she said.
The PSC had received over 1,500 applications for the positions of PSs by the September 1.
In the past, the position has been used to reward loyalists, sometimes at the expense of merit.
Unlike CSs who are appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly, the Constitution prescribes a rigorous recruitment process for PSs.
Ambassadors to various missions are yet another avenue for President Kenyatta and the DP to reward their loyalists.