Mixed reactions greeted the sacking of Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri Tuesday, further revealing the simmering divisions between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.
While some leaders from the Rift Valley lauded the sacking, others said the move was political and an application of double standards by the President.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter said Mr Kiunjuri’s exit was long overdue, noting that he had failed farmers.
“Congratulations farmers for coming out as winners after the Cabinet reshuffle. Kiunjuri’s sacking was long overdue as he has been presiding over a ministry driven by cartels,” he said.
Mr Keter, Moiben MP Silas Tiren and Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny have been vocal in pushing for farmers’ issues.
Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) board chairman Dr Noah Wekesa said Mr Kiunjuri was “the most inefficient minister ever” to head the agriculture docket.
“We welcome the changes as Mr Kiunjuri was problematic in handing issues affecting farmers,” said Dr Wekesa.
However, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, an ally of the DP, faulted those “celebrating” Kiunjuri’s ouster and faulted the Head of State for applying “double standards” in the changes.
“This is application of double standards. If the President was to fire any CS for involvement in politics, then (Fred) Matiang’i (Interior) should have gone alongside Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and Munya (Agriculture),” said Mr Cherargei.
He said Dr Matiang’i was preoccupied with BBI politics “when Al-Shabaab have a field day in northern Kenya”.
Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale said it’s the President’s prerogative to reorganise the executive based on performance of public servants and in the interest of service delivery.
“He has invited new faces to the Cabinet and appointed principal secretaries. The National Assembly will perform its duty in vetting them once the names are transmitted to the Speaker,” Mr Duale said.
In Parliament, Western leaders led by Majority Whip in the National Assembly Benjamin Washiali said the region has not been rewarded despite voting for Jubilee in the last General Election.
The MPs said since the sacking of Rashid Echesa as Sports CS, the region had not benefited from the Cabinet appointments. Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said the changes were timely.
“We hope this new team will put politics and self-interest aside and focus on service delivery,” said Ms Waiguru.
Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri the changes will bring efficiency and purity in the President’s agenda for the remaining two-and-a-half years.
“It will also end confusion, especially from people like Kiunjuri, who were misrepresenting the President by seeming to be at cross-purposes with him on issues like the fight against corruption and BBI. It also places CSs in what the President thinks are their primary strengths,” said Mr Ngunjiri.
Nominated MP and a fierce critic of the DP, Maina Kamanda, said Mr Kiunjuri’s sacking came at the right time, arguing that the Agriculture CS had concentrated on “his campaigns to be Dr Ruto’s running mate in 2022”.
“Instead of working as Agriculture CS, he started campaigning to be Ruto’s running mate. All complaints regarding agriculture in Central Kenya fell win his docket yet he did nothing,” said Mr Kamanda.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen lauded the appointment of former Marakwet East MP Linah Jebii Kilimo as Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Agriculture and Cooperatives.
“On behalf of the people of Elgeyo-Marakwet County, I congratulate Hon Kilimo on her appointment as CAS. Godspeed as you serve the Republic of Kenya,” said Mr Murkomen, also the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said: “We always demand the best from the President. A growing economy and better welfare. With the same agility, we must give him space, freedom and support to appoint the team that will help him deliver exactly that.”
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna lauded President Kenyatta’s address to the nation, noting that it focused largely on Agriculture. “It was no surprise that he also moved to deal with incompetence in his Cabinet, exemplified by Kiunjuri. It is our hope that the same measures prescribed for tea and milk will be applied to save the sugar and maize sectors,” said Mr Sifuna.
ODM director of political affairs, Opiyo Wandayi, said: “The President has exercised his prerogative in undertaking the reshuffle. I hope his decision is informed by the need to enhance service delivery.”
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said he had no issue with the changes. "I only want to believe that they were done in good faith and meritocracy was the only yard stick," he said. Chepalungu MP Gideon Koskei said there were heavy political undertones with the reshuffle effected by President Kenyatta.
"In South Rift, Bomet County has been left out yet again with John Mosonik, the CAS for Petroleum being the only top official," said Mr Koskei.
The County Government of Bungoma through a statement lauded the appointed of Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi as the New PS University education and Research.
“Congratulations Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi on the appointment as the New PS University education and Research in the government reshuffle announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta,” read the statement.
Ambassador Nabukwesi, an alumnus of Misikhu Friends School and Kenyatta University previously served as ambassador in Canada and was replaced six years ago.
He takes over from Prof Suda as the PS in charge of University Education and Research.
In Coast, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya lauded President Kenyatta’s plans for the economy.
“Usually cabinets are reshuffled to express dissatisfaction on how the cabinet is running. In this particular case it is both way considering the crisis of government and it is struggling to hold together,” said Pwani University lecturer Hassan Mwakimako.
The appointment of Dr Jwan Ouma as Permanent Secretary Vocational and Technical Training was well-received among the supporters of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief Raila Odinga.
“It is now evident that handshake is working, the region has suffered a lot for being in the opposition but now there is paradigm shift and more goodies are on the way not necessary to Nyanza but the unity seen today will help the country,” said Erick Jackym, a resident of Uasin Gishu.