President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet appointments was a culmination of record setting secrecy.
For the first time on Friday, the presidential speech was handwritten by the President himself.
Only Deputy President William Ruto saw the contents of the speech because he was present in the president’s State House office when his boss put pen to paper.
When the president finished reading the speech, he retreated with his hand written notes. His press team was swimming in confusion with nothing written to wire to the media. Left with no option, they picked their tools of trade and started transcribing what the president had said from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) footage.
“We did not know what to do because the president emerged with a hand written speech. When he finished, he went back to his office with it. We had no option that to transcribe from to KBC footage. That’s why it took us some time to send the speech to the media,” said a member of the presidential press team.
Ordinarily, a typed presidential speech is circulated to the media immediately the President finishes reading it. The president’s copy is routinely picked by his ADC once delivered.
In Friday’s speech, however, all these procedures were bypassed. People known to be close to the president did not have knowledge of the impending cabinet appointments. They remained, just like the rest of the country, largely in a speculative thought line.
The fact that the President was going to make cabinet appointments had leaked early on Friday, but did not gain much traction because similar expectations in the past had not paid off. The announcement had also brought an end to a long period of lobbying and clamour for top government posts.
President Kenyatta was faced with the daunting task of balancing the expectations of his lieutenants who had high hopes for appointment to the Executive after sticking out their necks for the Jubilee Party in the election. It was an unnerving task and a delicate balance for the President as fear among CSs, who had been left out of his initial list, hit boiling point.
Groups of politicians and technocrats had been struggling to get the attention of the President directly or through people believed to have his ear, with different entities pushing different interests. Sitting politicians, among them governors and senators, had been pushing to ensure their rivals do not benefit from Cabinet appointments.
This interest was however largely defeated by appointments of the likes of former Meru Governor Peter Munya as the East African Community Affairs and Northern Corridor Development CS. Munya’s appointment is a big victory for legislator Maoka Maore, who had heavily lobbied for the former governor against heavy resistance from Kiraitu Murungi-led circles.
Murungi defeated Munya to become Meru governor in the last elections. Other politicians who lost in the last elections and have now been nominated to the Executive are John Munyes (Petroleum), Baringo senatorial aspirant Simon Chelugui (Water) and Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani, who has been nominated to the Labour and Social Protection docket.
To contain the growing expectations, President Kenyatta announced the creation of the role of Chief Administrative Secretaries, a new role that he has appointed mostly politicians to manage.
Some of those who are set for the new role are Ababu Namwamba, Rachel Shebesh and Abdul Bahari. Former Tana River governor Hussein Dado has also been appointed as the CAS in the Devolution ministry.
*Adopted from The Standard