Kenya: Deputy President Gachagua declares only Ruto faithful will be appointed

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 11:31
Kenya's deputy President Rigathi Gachagua waves to supporters as he arrives for his swearing-in ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya September 13, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is under heavy criticism from the opposition over his recent remarks on who is suitable for appointment in state offices in President William Ruto’s administration.

Gachagua has declared that top government positions are a preserve only for Ruto supporters who campaigned and voted for Kenya Kwanza in the 2022 presidential poll, and those in the opposition should wait for their time.

He describes the Ruto administration as a company of few individuals and has shareholders, whose owners must benefit first.

“Ruto supporters invested in him, they must reap,” he said.

Gachagua said some opposition politicians who rejected Ruto are now visiting State House to seek government appointments.

“You cannot make noise and abuse Ruto, then after he wins you want to be in line to benefit,” he said, adding that he will “not allow outsiders” to benefit.

His remarks contradict Ruto’s promise of having an inclusive government that reflects the face of Kenya regardless of whether they voted for him or his opponents.

Tribalist crisis

Opposition leaders say Gachagua’s remarks are not surprising. They describe him as a tribal leader with a loose tongue.

A few months ago, he was criticised for harassing Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja, who he accused of mismanaging businesses that belong to Kikuyus, Gachagua’s tribe.

Ledama Olekina, the Senate minority whip, says Gachagua’s utterances are unfortunate and warns that Kenya continues to face a political tribalist crisis when it comes to state appointments.

“Gachagua is completely incompetent, I have always held that view,” he said.

Junet Mohammed, a close ally of opposition chief Raila Odinga, fears that the government is becoming a personal fiefdom.

“If the Republic is considered as a company owned by two individuals, why should Kenyans pay taxes?” he said in a tweet.

Government appointments

Six months after being sworn in, Ruto is still appointing state officers. In recent weeks he revoked several appointments made by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

In his nationwide political rallies, Odinga describes Ruto’s appointments as selective, unbalanced, rewarding close political allies, with a majority of appointees members of his Kalenjin tribe, and from the Kikuyu community of his deputy.

Gachagua’s remarks are an indication that the current regime is not keen to adhere to the constitutional requirements when appointing state officers, Bobby Mkangi, constitutional lawyer and political analyst, tells The Africa Report.

“No one should be discriminated against because of his tribe or political affiliation when it comes to government appointments,” he says.

Mkangi adds that Gachagua is sending a political message that the Ruto administration will first consider supporters, a move he says is not wise if he intends to lead a united country.

“Ruto should know that he is now the president of everyone, not a section of the country where he had a majority of supporters,” he adds.

According to Article 27 of the constitution, the appointing authority should ensure any appointment is done in an open, transparent and inclusive manner, and considers the marginalised and people with disability.

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