President Uhuru Kenyatta will be facing a challenging task to fill positions to be vacated in the Cabinet as several members are expected to resign today to begin their quest for elective seats.
Today is the last day for them to quit the coveted posts as directed by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua in a circular he issued last month.
Besides the CSs, some Principal Secretaries and Chief Administrative Secretaries have also indicated their readiness to leave and fight for political seats. Some parastatals heads are also expected to resign.
To avert a full-blown crisis, the President will have to act either way to fill the positions to forestall any challenges that might come with their resignation.
In case of resignation in the Cabinet, the President may choose to appoint those in office to act for the remaining six months before the August 9 polls.
In 2017, the then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was picked as acting Interior CS following the sudden death of Joseph Nkaissery. The CS was to formally take over the docket after that year’s elections.
The President could also pick new faces but that would be required to undergo a lengthy vetting process in Parliament before they formally take over.
Normally, the National Assembly Speaker forms a committee to interview nominees once the President forwards them to the House.
After interviewing them, the committee, chaired by the Speaker, tables a report approving or rejecting the nominees before the whole House. A majority vote in favour clears the way for them to be appointed.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said if the President chooses to appoint new members to the Cabinet, the National Assembly will have to fast-track their approval to enable them to occupy office as soon as possible.
The lawmaker, who is a key member of the Azimio la Umoja led by Raila Odinga, also said they expect the President to reward his Handshake partner with Cabinet slots ahead of the polls.
“The President can use the opportunity to start preparing for the next government by appointing people from Raila’s side,” said the MP.
However, a senior Government official told People Daily they were still waiting for Uhuru’s direction on the matter.
“I am not privy to any information on what the President is planning but it is purely his decision,” said the official.
A political analyst, Prof Kaburu Kinoti, says the Head of State will have to act to avert any unintended problems in State operations.
“Though it is a difficult time for the President, the CSs resignation may not affect service delivery at the policy level. However, the resignation of AIE holders, who are Principal Secretaries, will definitely affect the delivery of service and they may need to be filled,” Kinoti noted.
Kinoti, Secretary-General of Peace and Democracy Party and a statistics lecturer, argued that Uhuru may also make lemonades out of the situation “because the opportunity accords him and his Handshake partner a chance to reward their stalwarts who will not be on the ballot. Headache, however, is the limited time they have to vet the candidates given the proximity to the elections.
He opines that ministries such as a Treasury, owing to the sensitive nature of its operations, may require a substantive replacement in the event the holder Ukur Yatani decides to go for a political seat.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said a decision on the filling of posts in the Cabinet purely rests with the President.
“Appointment is the prerogative of the President and the party plays an insignificant role when it comes to appointments by the Executive,” said Kutuny.
Even as Uhuru ponders what to do next, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi on Sunday appeared to claim that the Head of State was planning to dish the vacant positions to politically restive regions to entice them to support Azimio.
Mudavadi dismissed the plan, saying it will not change their minds after deciding to ally with Deputy President William Ruto.
“We have some Cabinet Secretaries who are set to resign by February 8. We have a plot by those in the Azimio to dish out the vacant positions to Luhya leaders to win their support. It will be useless to be given a Cabinet position with only a few days remaining until elections,” said Mudavadi during the Kenya Kwanza Alliance rally in Vihiga.
However, a section of leaders from the Western region yesterday dismissed the claims, saying they were not aware of such plans.
“How did he get that information? If it is information the President shared with him in confidence then it will be out of character for him to reveal what he was told in confidence,” said Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu, the Democratic Action Party of Kenya Secretary-General.
A hive of activity is expected in various boardrooms in the ministries today as the CSs, CAs and PSs quit public service to try their luck in the murky world of politics.
Before they are let go, however, the officers will have to hand over all the State properties under their care in addition to preparing comprehensive hand-over notes indicating the status of the flagship projects and other engagements their offices are involved in.
Cabinet Secretaries expected to resign are Yatani (Treasury), Charles Keter (Devolution), Sicily Kariuki (Water), John Munyes (Mining and Petroleum), James Macharia (Transport) and Peter Munya (Agriculture).
Munya has, however, said he will not quit yet, saying he will wait for the court’s direction on the matter.
“The courts are still addressing the constitutionality or otherwise of the requirement for resignation. Until the courts conclusively settle the matter I maintain the status quo,” the CS said.
Several cases are in court challenging the demand for them to quit six months to the polls.