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North Rift politicians cry foul after Cabinet changes

Friday January 17 2020
betty

Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary nominee Betty Maina. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT

The recent Cabinet reshuffle has reawakened the rivalry between the North and the South Rift after one slot was shifted to the latter leaving some leaders in the former bitter and demanding for one extra seat.

In the changes announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, suspended Treasury CS Henry Rotich was sacked after he was implicated in alleged corrupt practices in the ministry last year.

His position was given to Ukur Yatani, who had been occupying the seat in an acting capacity since Rotich left.

Mr Rotich is from Elgeyo-Marakwet County which is in the North Rift.

In a bid to appease the Rift Valley voters, the President picked Ms Betty Maina to be the next Industrialisation CS in a move interpreted as maintaining the number of Kalenjins in the Cabinet.

However, the appointment of Ms Maina, who is from Kericho County in South Rift has left a bad taste in the mouths of the leaders from North Rift.

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Before the changes, only Energy CS Charles Keter was from South Rift.

The North still has two serving Cabinet Secretaries, that is Simon Chelugui (Labour), who is from Baring and Ms Farida Karoney (Lands) from Nandi.

“We expected the Head of State to appoint another CS from the North Rift after the removal of Henry Rotich from the treasury docket.

"As a region, we feel were given a raw deal after South Rift and in particular Belgut constituency which was rewarded with another CS position,” Mr Paul Kibet, North Rift Kanu coordinator.

He also said an individual from the independence party should have been considered in the spirit of the handshake that he said had united the country.

“As much as we support the President in the fight against corruption and the recent reshuffle aimed at turning round the country economy, we expect him to exercise regional balance in the appointments,” Mr Kibet added.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said although the President enjoyed unfettered powers in forming his Cabinet, he should have ensured there is regional balance.

“The President has the prerogative to appoint anyone to the Cabinet. I am sure those appointed are qualified to discharge the duties picked for. Regional balance is important too but I believe the team appointed is the right one,” said Mr Cherargei, also the Chairman of the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs committee.

Konoin MP Brighton Yegon said it was wrong to give Kericho county another Cabinet slot leaving the neighbouring Bomet with none.

“It is not right to have two CSs from one county. There should be some regional balance in such appointments. Bomet has not had a CS or a PS for years now. We have only been allocated one Chief Administrative Secretary which we know is not as lucrative as the other two,” the MP told the Nation.

Mr Yegon also questioned the recent changes saying the DP might not have been consulted. He said it was becoming clear he was being sidelined in the running of the government.

“I do not think he was consulted in these Cabinet changes on Tuesday. It seems to have been done by one side without his input. There are people who are openly hell-bent on frustrating the DP and are keen on destroying the relationship between him and the president. It is not good for Jubilee party and the government,” said Mr Yegon.

However, Mr Cherargei said it was not time to panic dismissing fears that the DP was losing influence in the Cabinet saying he still held significant sway and deserved respect being a senior member of the government.

“The President has the prerogative to hire and fire any Cabinet secretary. He has the freedom to pick any person who is competent to serve in any ministry he deems fit for them. I don’t think the DP has lost in anyway. He is the President’s principal assistant and it will remain so,” he told the Nation

Additional reporting by Wycliff Kipsang

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