President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto failed to unveil the second batch of their nominees to the Cabinet on Wednesday, promising to release a comprehensive list this morning.
But in what is likely to disappoint their foot-soldiers during the last General Election, Mr Ruto was categorical that there would be no politicians in their Cabinet.
“I can tell you today that there will only be two politicians in the Cabinet, the President and I, the rest will be managers able to implement our government’s programmes. During our interviews, we have not asked any of them which party they voted for because that is immaterial,” the Deputy President stated.
After keeping journalists waiting for over two hours, President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto announced at State House that they were still talking to the nominees to the Cabinet and would announce them this morning.
“We want to apologise for keeping you waiting. As you all know, we had visitors and it took longer than expected so we were not able to interview the individuals we have in mind. We will give you a comprehensive list tomorrow morning,” Mr Kenyatta announced.
The President and his deputy had been expected to announce the next batch of cabinet secretaries at 4pm, but this was pushed to 6.15pm. However, it was not until 7.19pm that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto broke the news that they would not announce their nominees last evening.
Mr Kenyatta said they had spent the better part of the day in talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Dessalegn, which had eaten into the time they had expected to fine-tune their list of nominees to the Cabinet.
They denied reports that the delay was caused by disagreements over power-sharing, saying that their priority was to identify and recruit qualified individuals to implement the Jubilee manifesto.
“We are looking at individuals who are capable of implementing our manifesto. We believe that the individuals we have chosen have the capacity to deliver and build teamwork,” Mr Ruto said.
He was responding to concerns on Wednesday by medical practitioners regarding the nominee for the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mr James Macharia.
The medical practitioners complained that Mr Macharia, a career banker, was ill-equipped to run the health ministry and called for the appointment of an individual with a medical background.
Among politicians who had been rumoured would make it to the 18-member Jubilee Coalition Cabinet were former Cabinet ministers Charity Ngilu, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Sam Ongeri and Najib Balala.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto had also struck post-election alliances with Amani Coalition leaders Musalia Mudavadi and Eugene Wamalwa, raising expectations that they could include them in their Cabinet. That looks unlikely following Wednesday’s announcement by Mr Ruto.
Meanwhile, two opposition MPs, ODM’s Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) and John Mbadi (Suba), on Wednesday said the House should not start vetting Cabinet nominees until all 18 are named.
“We cannot start the vetting until the entire Cabinet is named,” Mr Midiwo told journalists in the morning. “If you tell us you have given us four nominees to vet, how shall we tell whether there is regional or gender balance?”
Mr Midiwo said the Committee on Appointments would start work immediately the entire Cabinet list is known, even if that means starting work at night.
When President Kenyatta presented the four nominees on Tuesday evening, he said that the vetting could start since Parliament had just a few hours earlier approved the membership of the committee.
But Mr Midiwo said it is the President and not Parliament that was the cause of the delay.
Mr Mbadi argued that even if Henry Rotich’s nomination as Secretary for Treasury was approved, it would still be impossible for him to present the Budget to the House via the Budget Committee on time.
The Budget has to be approved by the Cabinet before it is taken to the National Assembly, he said, and the Cabinet can only be considered to be in place if at least 14 members have been nominated and appointed.
“The honeymoon is over. We now need work. We don’t want posturing. We don’t want Obama style of walking. What we want (is for you to) give us the Cabinet,” Mr Mbadi said.
Mr Mbadi asked the Speaker to rule on whether the National Assembly can start the vetting given that the Constitution states that the Cabinet must have a minimum of 14 members.
He said it would only be possible to tell whether there was regional and gender balance with the full Cabinet.