Likely winners and losers in Cabinet purge

After successfully downsizing Deputy President William Ruto politically in Parliament, President Uhuru Kenyatta is now set to swing his political sword to the Cabinet to remodel it into a legacy-compliant one.

There is no let up, he has no time to lose and there is no one special any more, the allies say.
In the last one and a half years, President Kenyatta has dumped two of Ruto’s political fanatics from the Cabinet; former Sports CS Rashid Echesa and former Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri. Their replacements — George Magoha (Education) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health) — have excelled.

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This, together with the impression that they were chosen for strategic political reasons rather than performance, has added fuel to the president’s determination to purge Cabinet of DP’s nominees.

Same direction

By freeing up their posts together with other top government appointments, the president and his Kitchen Cabinet believe they would be killing two birds with one stone; creating space in a ballooning government, and also securing his legacy by getting the best to run his last show.

“The president wants a government that is focused and walking in the same direction and with an allegiance to him. This will help him direct the energies in one direction,” said the source in Kenyatta’s circle.

Besides the DP’s allies, some CSs are also said to have under-performed, are over ambitious and have outlived their purpose in Cabinet. Those who have fallen out with their regional leadership may be chopped, swapped or moved to other positions.

“We support the idea of Cabinet changes. There are many CSs who are not adding value to the president. Some cannot even address a rally. Some have been giving contracts to our rivals. While we take note that they add no value, we recognise it is the prerogative of the president and he has a free hand,” Majority Whip in the Senate Kang’ata Irungu told Saturday Standard.

Irungu is one of the emerging darlings of the post-purge Kenyatta circle. On Wednesday, the ousted Senate Majority Leader and Ruto ally, Kipchumba Murkomen claimed that with Kenyatta engaging a full succession politics gear, a purge in Cabinet was inevitable.

“Succession politics, it will come in various forms; fight for legislative control, change constitution, fire and hire of CSs and other senior government officials, political arrests, intimidation of Judges,” he tweeted. Three of the CSs owe their allegiance to Ruto. One other has since mastered the art of balancing between the DP and the president, and is therefore likely to survive. One CS is likely to be demoted, while one of the latest appointees to the Cabinet may land a promotion while others may be swapped.

Those likely to bounce into the Cabinet include Raila’s allies who vied for gubernatorial seats in the last election but did not make it, technocrats who have stood by Kenyatta, trusted allies of Kanu chair Gideon Moi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and a Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) who has excelled and earned the trust of State House.

The automation of the constitutional office of Secretary to the Cabinet (SC) will also add another senior post, big enough to swallow some of the functions currently domiciled at Interior Ministry, and attractive enough to be used as a reward for an important political ally.

Ruto loyalists

One of those who has been considered is former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto who says he does not mind serving Kenyans. Ruto told Saturday Standard that he is a patriot who is ever ready to give his services to the nation when needed.

“We are in agreement with the president that we need a political, economic and social stability in Kenya. I would not mind being part of the team steering Kenya from the pandemic,” Ruto said

Another name that has been floated is that of former Cabinet Minister Paul Otuoma, while the name of former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth is on the lips of the new team of Kang’ata.

David Murathe, the Jubilee Vice Chairman said appointments, sackings or reshuffles are the prerogative of the president and few would know what plans he has.

Seen it coming

He however hinted that such a move could be in the offing.

“Lets wait and see what the president has up his sleeve. He has finished with Parliament, maybe Cabinet will be next. I said maybe,” he added.

Oscar Sudi, the Kapsaret MP who is an ardent Ruto supporter, said they had seen it coming and warned those close to the DP at the Cabinet or big government positions of any eventuality.

“We are aware of the intentions to sack some people believed to owe their allegiance to the deputy president. We are asking them to go ahead, we have given up,” Sudi said.

Political analyst Martin Oloo argued that Kenyatta’s cathartic wave will not stop at the National Assembly but at the Cabinet and the civil service.

“You cannot put your house in order by removing some and leaving others. There are some DP loyalists in the Cabinet, parastatals and in the civil service. To stamp his authority, he is headed to the Cabinet after the National Assembly,” argued Oloo.

“The latest Executive Order just shows that he wants to checkmate his deputy by ensuring that even funds going to that office are accounted for by his own accounting officer. That should tell you that his purge is not over until it’s over.

”Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said they are aware that the president, after dealing with Ruto allies in Parliament, had trained his eyes on the Cabinet where those seen to be allied to the DP would be axed.

He said the president was keen on blaming anyone else for his poor performance and noted that the collateral damage would be large.

“In the coming days, more will have to suffer as someone finds excuses for non-performance. It will move to the Cabinet next week. All these actions are unnecessary. They have to admit that they did not do their bidding well and trace where they went wrong,” said Nyoro.

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