President Uhuru Kenyatta is crafting radical changes in government that will see a couple of Cabinet secretaries dropped as he races against time to implement his legacy projects.
After overhauling the parliamentary leadership, the President is said to be shifting his focus to his Cabinet in a major shake-up to tap the most experienced hands to drive his heritage plan.
The impending changes have already triggered panic in the Cabinet amidst reports that key allies of Deputy President William Ruto and those nursing 2022 political ambitions will be chopped.
The DP’s parliamentary lieutenants have already paid a painful political price, loss of power, after Uhuru ruthlessly executed far-reaching changes in the Senate and National Assembly leadership.
Those aware of the President’s plans say Uhuru is keen to assemble a team of experienced leaders who will work for him “body and soul” as he enters the home stretch of his final term.
The team that will steer Uhuru’s life-and-death fight for a legacy will exclude politicians who have shown any interest in the 2022 general election to avoid divided attention and competing interests.
Some CSs are said to be plotting gubernatorial and presidential ambitions at the expense of helping deliver on the President’s agenda.
Those nursing 2022 ambitions will be chopped.
Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata, a close confidant of the President, confirmed the Cabinet changes could come in less than three weeks.
Kang’ata revealed the President will axe a couple of CSs and chief administrative secretaries to pave the way for a fresh and vigorous team focused on his agenda.
“Changes in the Cabinet are inevitable and that will definitely happen within three weeks,” Kang’ata said on Saturday at Wamahiga Primary School in Kigumo, Murang’a county.
Kang’ata said the President has already made up his mind that he would fire some officials in his government to secure an environment necessary to deliver on his projects.
“The government’s agenda cannot be achieved by officials who do not support it. Their removal is necessary,” Kang’ata said.
This announcement came as it emerged an influential Cabinet secretary had already made contact with his ‘godfather’ in a desperate move to salvage his position amidst fears he could be dropped in the imminent changes.
TIME IS UP
The Star has established the CS dispatched close allies for discussions with an influential ex-government official and political heavyweight.
The godfather’s family is said to be pushing for the CS’s axing claiming the official has not helped them as was expected despite holding the post on their behalf.
On Sunday, former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett who served during the Grand Coalition government as well, said this is the moment Uhuru must change the Cabinet if he is to secure his legacy.
“The time is ripe. The time is now. Otherwise, he will walk home without any legacy,” said the former Bureti MP who also served as State House comptroller during President Moi’s era.
“If you ask me what legacy the President take home today, I will tell you ‘none’. Nothing tangible. Uhuru has come to the realisation that time is not on his side.”
Bett said Uhuru is in an awkward position that will force him to fight hard to leave something Kenyans will remember him for after he exits office.
“I expect Uhuru to minimise on people who have 2022 political interests so they are not detoured by their ambitions. His new team must have no or limited political interests,” he said.
Uhuru recently hinted he would push leaders in his government who appear either non-committed in helping him achieve his agenda or are outright saboteurs.
In an interview with NTV, Uhuru said he will no longer continue begging people to focus on the delivery of his agenda.
“I have been pleading with people the whole of 2019: ‘Please, let us focus on the [Big Four] agenda, the time for politics will come’… Well, I don’t have that much time to go…I can’t continue pleading,” he said during the interview on May 26.
The President revealed he wanted to bring on board leaders committed to delivering his legacy and said some of them had let their future ambitions cloud their work.
On Sunday, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu told the Star the President will adjust his Cabinet “where he deems it necessary”.
“We should expect him [Uhuru] to keep making changes to whatever structures around him – at all levels – until he has a team that works as he would want. This clearly would include at the Cabinet level,” Ngunjiri said.
Political analyst Edward Kisiangani said Uhuru will not achieve any legacy because he has squandered his time and his BBI push has further divided Kenyans.
“If he will change the Cabinet, then it will be about sacking those who do not agree with him. Uhuru is desperate to have everyone agree with him,” he said, adding that “time is up” for the President.
There have been reports of the expansion of the Cabinet to include key opposition leaders as part of the strategy to whittle down DP Ruto’s influence and help the President firm up an enduring heritage.
However, competing interests are said to have delayed the unveiling of the government of national unity over concerns that appointing opposition leaders with competing for political ambitions would be counterproductive.
University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora said appointing leading political figures to the Cabinet is not a small matter as it portends serious political ramifications.
“Being appointed would mean Uhuru is sending signals that is the person he would want to succeed him,” he said.
Before making such an appointment, Manyora said, one must be ready to play subordinate.
While a unity government would achieve one of the President’s agenda items – national unity – the push and shove over competing 2022 political interests might not guarantee the success of Uhuru’s legacy.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has received blessings from his party to sign a cooperation agreement with Uhuru’s Jubilee Party while Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s ODM party declined joining a coalition arrangement.