Secret and public lobbying for the remaining 13 ministerial positions intensified last week ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anticipated announcement of his full Cabinet next week.
The Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale said that the President is set to name the remaining Cabinet Secretaries any time from now.
“The President will name the full Cabinet next week upon which all the names will be presented to Parliament for vetting,” he told the Nation. The President is also expected to unveil his list of Principal Secretaries.
But preceding this announcement is intense canvasing by politicians either to save the 13 CSs from the President’s axe or to influence the appointment of their replacements.
Jubilee Party MPs from Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard met on Wednesday and Thursday, fuelling the perception that there are discussions behind the scenes on the party’s affairs.
In addition, there was unease amongst MPs from the region following the decision by the party’s top leadership late last year to remove four legislators — three of them from Rift Valley — as chairmen of four Parliamentary committees for going against the party’s lineup.
However, on the two days the MPs met, they had agenda that they could legitimately use to dispel the notion that there is discomfort within the DP’s camp. In both meetings the issue of perceived rift between the President and the DP did not feature.
Wednesday’s meeting concluded with the hand-over of a Toyota Probox to Florence Chepng’etich, the artiste popularly known as Naswa, who had come up with a popular song praising the Jubilee Party in last year’s campaigns.
On Thursday evening, the DP hosted Kalenjin MPs for a closed- door meeting at his Weston Hotel along Lang’ata Road in Nairobi. The meeting, which started at seven o’clock and ended at around 8.40 pm, was attended by more than 30 MPs and senators from his the Kalenjin community.
“It was a forum for us to know each other properly,” said an MP who attended the meeting but who asked not to be named so as not to be seen to be leaking details of the private meeting.
The legislator said that the main agenda was how to quell the rising tension between the Pokot and Marakwet which has so far claimed several lives and displaced hundreds of people on the border between Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
Another MP who attended the meeting but who also requested to speak freely in background said the DP called on them to popularise Jubilee Party at the grassroots.
Some of those who attended the meeting include MPs William Cheptumo (Baringo North), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata), Wilson Kogo (Chesumei), William Kamket (Tiaty), Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North) as well as Kericho County Senator Aron Cheruiyot.
The call to strengthen the party in the DP’s Rift Valley political backyard comes at a time when his nemesis within the Kalenjin community, Senator Gideon Moi of Baringo County, is causing unease within Jubilee.
The Kanu leader last week denied that he is angling for a Cabinet post, although it is understood that he has given the President a list of his own people whom he wants to be appointed to various positions in government as a way of returning the favour of supporting his re-election.
But Mr Moi suffered a small setback when he could not retain the chairmanship of the coveted Senate committee on Energy which he chaired in the last Parliament forcing him to settle for the less visible ICT committee where he was elected chairman.
“If Moi cannot influence to be in a committee how then can he influence anyone to be in Cabinet,” said a source within Jubilee who is privy to the lobbying by the senator for Cabinet positions.
Elsewhere, Meru politicians are divided over the fate of Land CS Jacob Kaimenyi. While a section of Njuri Ncheke elders and Ameru professionals support Prof Kaimenyi and appointment of another person from the region, elected leaders say the matter is a hot potato.
Last week, some MPs who attended a meeting called by Governor Kiraitu Murungi to discuss county development plans were not keen to deliberate on the Cabinet appointments.
South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi said that during the Friday meeting the leaders did not come up with a common stand on preferred persons for the Cabinet.
“That is a hot potato,” he said. “No one is ready to sit and talk about it. Every leader has their own interest. But my position is that the CS position should go to someone from Meru North region,” he said.
But North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood maintained that he supports the retention of Prof Kaimenyi. “As North Imenti leaders, our request is that the Land CS should be retained. We are also asking for another Cabinet position to go to Meru North,” Mr Dawood said.
Igembe North MP Maoka Maore said the Meru would be comfortable with whoever the President finds fit to serve in the Cabinet. “We are giving the President space to appoint the best,” he said.
In Nyanza, Jubilee Secretary- General Raphael Tuju and former Karachuonyo MP James Rege are leading the pack of individuals touted for Cabinet positions.
Jubilee gubernatorial candidates in last August’s General Election Tom Alila (Homa Bay) and Atieno Otieno (Kisumu) said they were also up to the task should they be nominated.
The name of Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chairman Prof George Magoha has been prominently mentioned as a possible replacement of Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in the Education docket.
In Western, the names of Labour Party of Kenya leader Ababu Namwamba, former Funyula MP Paul Otuoma and former Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga have been floated as possible nominees. Yesterday, most of the leaders remained guarded on the matter when reached for comment.
“At the moment I am taking time off politics, travelling out of the country on extended vacation,” Mr Namwamba said on the phone.
“About the Cabinet, I would advise you to respect the wisdom of Deputy President William Ruto and let His Excellency the President execute his prerogative to construct government without undue influence or pressure.
Mr Rege, who ditched Nasa leader Raila Odinga’s ODM party to support President Kenyatta last year, said he is looking forward to joining the Cabinet.
“I have heard my name being mentioned around and I would like to believe that I may make it to the Cabinet,” Mr Rege said.
In Coast, politicians who lost in the August 8 poll and other professionals are eyeing the Cabinet or appointment to other top positions in government.
Tourism CS Najib Balala has already scooped one of the slots meant for the region following his reappointment. Apart from Mr Balala, the other CS from the coast is Dan Kazungu. A number of principal secretaries also hail from the region.
Although Mr Balala hails from Mombasa, supporters of former Senator Hassan Omar and Jubilee’s gubernatorial candidate Suleiman Shahbal, both of whom come from the same county, are calling for their inclusion in government. When contacted on the phone, Mr Omar said: “I cannot comment on that story now,” and hang up.
By Kipchumba Some, Justus Ochieng, David Muchui, John Ngirachu, Wanjohi Githae, Mohamed Ahmed and L. Barasa.