actions speak louder than words

Kenya: President Kenyatta’s reshuffle weakens Ruto’s men in cabinet

By Son Gatitu

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Posted on October 8, 2021 17:15

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a joint statement with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the State House, in Nairobi
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House, in Nairobi, Kenya, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

With only 10 months until the end of Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency, his final days are mired in mystery. This is a man who has left no doubt of his derision for his deputy William Ruto. But what kind of statement was he making through his recent changes to the cabinet?

It’s a common tradition for the president to put his most trusted persons in ministries that he considers crucial for his legacy.

There are currently 21 ministries in the Kenyan government, each headed by a cabinet secretary (CS). Within these ministries are different state departments led by principal secretaries (PSs), who are accounting officers charged with tracking implementation of funds allocated to their dockets. Each state department is allocated an annual budget based on the cost of programmes under it.

Over the years, ministries have built their reputation based on the size of their budget and the importance of state agencies under them. For the current financial year ending June 2022, the Kenyan government has set out to spend KSh3.6tn ($33m).

Lost bromance

Had this been any year between 2013 and 2018, the president would have only made the changes upon consulting Ruto, perhaps even read out the changes beside him. The naming of the first cabinet in 2013 was so choreographed, to the point that Kenyatta and Ruto appeared in matching ties and shirts to address the nation, with a list of their vision bearers in the name of a cabinet. That image is no longer visible.

This time round, the president assigned the statehouse spokesperson, Kanze Dena, to make the announcement to the media.

“The presidential action […] introduces functional changes…changes that shall make the relevant ministries and state departments more efficient and better able to deliver superlative services to the public,” said Dena.

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