President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have sidelined their close allies and aides as they embark on crafting their post-election government.
Unlike in previous cases when information about pending appointments has leaked out beforehand, virtually all of their handlers do not seem to know what Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are up to amid intense lobbying by incumbent ministers and those keen to take up their jobs.
The Sunday Nation gathered that while Mr Kenyatta could submit some names to Parliament this week for vetting, he is said to favour January to allow lawmakers time to break for Christmas and end year celebrations before resuming sessions.
Those privy to the presidential diary told Sunday Nation that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have significantly reduced their public engagements, a sign they may either want to commit more time on forming the government or recoup some energy after a rigorous campaign.
They have in the last four days resorted to engage themselves in closed door meetings or through telephone conversations in what many of their handlers believe have everything to do with crafting the next government.
Keen to capture the President’s attention, all Cabinet secretaries have heavily invested in public appearances, ensuring that unlike before, their meetings and functions get maximum media coverage, both traditional and social media.
Some like Lands CS Jacob Kaimenyi have formed caucus groups such as the Ameru Professional forum to help lobby for reappointment.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have also been quietly receiving delegations keen to persuade them to consider “their sons or daughters”.
The bulk of the delegations, largely community leaders are being organised by technocrats and politicians who supported Mr Kenyatta’s re-election.
Mr Ruto is for instance understood to have met a group from Maasailand on Wednesday but did not give any commitment as to whether he would honour their request.
The President is also understood to have had a discussion with a team from Ukambani on Thursday.
The closely guarded process of crafting the next government has sent jitters among Cabinet secretaries and also hopefuls for the coveted seats. Some of the CSs we spoke to have resigned to fate.
Sources in government indicated that Cabinet Secretaries have already been asked to prepare hand over notes on the status of their respective ministries.
Since there are no timelines on when the President can announce a new Cabinet, sources indicated that he may hold on until January.
The Cabinet Secretaries will have to be vetted by Parliament and that means at some point MPs may be recalled to carry on the duty.
The vice chairman of President Kenyatta’s party David Murathe said the President is still weighing his options.
“For all intents and purposes, the President is playing his cards close to his chest. People should wait. The President knows all his people. He knows who has performed and who has not. He knows who should be moved and who should remain,” said Mr Murathe.
The CSs have been meeting almost daily to craft a medium term budget to help President Kenyatta prioritise areas of action in his initial months in office.
A memo by the National Treasury CS Henry Rotich dated November 29 identifies universal health coverage, manufacturing, affordable housing, food and nutrition as areas of immediate focus.
“All cabinet secretaries and accounting officers of commissions and independent offices are expected to participate and defend their budget proposals during the process,” Mr Rotich wrote.
With the dust starting to settle after the gruelling electioneering period, the Public Service Commission (PSC) will be meeting this week to begin shortlisting candidates for appointment as principal secretaries.
This comes as former MPs and other losers in the last election position themselves for either executive or parastatal appointment.
“The commission meets next week to start shortlisting and decide on interview schedule. Until then no timelines can be announced,” PSC chairperson Margaret Kobia told Sunday Nation of the interviews for the applicants for principal secretary positions.
Prof Kobia also discounted media reports that were naming top civil servants and former MPs among those shortlisted for the PS positions.
“PSC has not released any list because shortlisting has not been done,” she said.
According to Prof Kobia, PSC received “around 2,000 applications from public and private sector including former MPs” but added that identities of the applicants will only become public after PSC shortlists and publishes the names.
By Justus Wanga, Walter Menya and Wanjohi Githae