President Uhuru Kenyatta’s key allies from Western and Ukambani regions, who ditched the Opposition to lead his re-election campaign last year, are crying foul after they missed out on government jobs.
Having campaigned for the President in their regions and beyond, the politicians, many of whom lost their seats, now feel betrayed and short-changed after he failed to consider them in appointments to various government positions last week.
The disgruntled politicians, some of whom spoke to the Sunday Nation, include Mr Cyrus Jirongo, former Vihiga governor Moses Akaranga, former Speaker Kenneth Marende, former Cabinet ministers Chris Okemo and Paul Otuoma, and former assistant minister Yusuf Chanzu from Western.
Those from Ukambani include former Kitui Senator David Musila, who quit Wiper party where he was the national chairman, former MPs Kisoi Munyao, Joe Mutambu, Itwiku Mbai, Katemi Makenga, John Munuve, Gideon Ndambuki and Regina Ndambuki.
Other politicians declined interviews, saying they are still hopeful that President Kenyatta will in due course consider them for jobs as a reward for “the sacrifices they made to get him re-elected”.
Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe and his Ikolomani counterpart Bernard Shinali told Sunday Nation that Western region had expected to benefit from the appointments after campaigning aggressively for the President.
Mr Shinali voiced displeasure after Mr Sammy Itemere was dropped as the Principal Secretary for Broadcasting.
Mr Wangwe protested that they had prepared a list of people they wanted appointed to government positions from the region, but nothing has happened so far. He complained that Jubilee supporters from his constituency were disappointed.
“I have been sent by my people to give this message to President Kenyatta: We have supported Jubilee and expect to be part of this government.
“I presented the names of qualified professionals to the President, but it’s disappointing that none has been picked,” he said.
But Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali told his colleagues not to preoccupy themselves with the issue of government positions. He said leaders from the county had informally agreed to lobby for Ikolomani and Navakholo to get key positions in government after the elections.
Mr Washiali said the appointment of Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Mohamed, Education CS Amina Mohamed and himself as Chief Whip indicated that the region was adequately represented in the government.
“We don’t have enough jobs for everybody in government. It should be clear that even in Jubilee, some of our colleagues who sacrificed a lot and campaigned for the party using their resources are still out there without jobs,” said Mr Washiali.
He said the complaints should not be directed at President Kenyatta since he has done his best to ensure the appointments are balanced across regions. “At national level, you cannot expect everybody to be appointed to the Cabinet or other key positions in government. There are 47 counties and if each of them were to demand a Cabinet slot, what would happen?” asked Mr Washiali.
Former assistant minister Alfred Khangati downplayed the matter, saying there had not been any specific promises of jobs to those who campaigned for the President.
“There was just a general indication that there would be some form of reward,” said Mr Khangati. “You can see that those who have so far been appointed to positions in government are from Jubilee. The rest of us will have to be patient. I don’t personally feel bad about it since there was no firm promise that I would be rewarded if I campaigned for Jubilee,” he added.
Mr Chanzu asked his colleagues to stop crying foul over claims that the government is not considering the region for appointments.
"You can't expect to harvest where you did not plant. Positions (in government) are like a reward in line with the support given," said Mr Chanzu.
He added: "We (in reference to himself, Akaranga and Marende) supported Uhuru against all odds. We must create a conducive environment for us to get the appointments."
While affirming his support for Jubilee, Mr Chanzu asked President Kenyatta to consider more people from Western for appointments.
"The Jubilee government should not sideline the community because of the mistakes of our seniors," he said.
In Ukambani, the disgruntled lot claimed their campaigning for Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto cost them their parliamentary seats and they should, therefore, have been treated with courtesy and appreciation.
According to Mr Munyao, the former Mbooni MP, they have not only been left out in all significant State appointments, but they have also been blocked from accessing the President and State House, a privilege they enjoyed last year.
Mr Munyao, who came second with more than 15,000 votes in last year’s election, said had he not defected from Wiper to Jubilee, he would have comfortably been re-elected as MP. He said he lost because the President’s party was unpopular in Ukambani.
“We chose to stand with the President fully aware of the political consequences because we believed in the Jubilee manifesto. We braved untold hostility from our competitors, who accused us of betraying the community’s political cause,” he said.
An angry Mr Munyao said they have endured public ridicule and bashing from their supporters after they were all snubbed in the top government line-ups.
He said the expectations of the people were that at least one of them would land a Cabinet appointment as reward for campaigning for his re-election. “The community feels their sons and daughters were used and dumped,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Mr Mutambu, Mr Mbai, Mr Munuve and Mr Makenga who threatened to quit Jubilee and troop back to their former party, if the President doesn’t recognise their political efforts.
After the August 8, 2017 elections, President Kenyatta toured Machakos and publicly promised to reward Jubilee parliamentary candidates from Ukambani region who had lost their seats.
Speaking during the burial of Mr George Munyaka, the father of Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka at Ngelani village on October 3, last year, the President said there were many government jobs available to only those who stood by him during the campaigns.
At the burial, Mr Kenyatta singled out Mr Munyao, Mr Mutambu (Mwingi Central) and Mr Mbai (Masinga) as among MPs who lost their seats because of their steadfast support for Jubilee.
“Once we cross over October 26, and win the repeat presidential elections, be assured I’ll give you jobs as my appreciation for the support you’ve given me,” the President told the election losers.
The President appointed Dr Monica Kathina Juma as the Foreign Affairs CS, but the group claimed she doesn’t represent the political interests of the community in government, by virtue of being married in Murang'a County. However, Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai defended Dr Juma’s appointment, saying she was an accomplished professional.
The only senior appointee from Ukambani is Dr Julius Muia, who was picked as Treasury PS. Among the group of former MPs, only former Kibwezi lawmaker Philip Kaloki was recently picked as chairman of Kenya Medical Training College board.