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The unwieldy coalition in Nairobi is going from big tent to bloated tent
When President Uhuru Kenyatta shuffled and expanded his pack of ministers on Thursday (19 February) it was his 'handshake' partners, Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga and his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, who benefited most. There was more patronage for the newish allies but no sackings.
The changes, which cover political appointees at chief administrative secretary (CAS) and top officials at principal secretary (PS) level, have seen eight new entrants to the executive line-up – all pro-Handshake allies.
Created by Kenyatta in 2018, partly as a means to reward political allies who failed to get elected at the 2017 elections, the CAS post functions as an assistant minister and ranks below the cabinet minister. CAS appointees do not need parliamentary approval.
The highest profile of the new names is David Osianyi, close to Odinga, who has been appointed chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development.
The President on Friday said that no official had been sacked. But allies of Deputy President William Ruto may see their power diluted ahead of the 2022 general elections (AC Vol 61 No 14, A big tent for Moi's children). Ministers nominated by Ruto will now have hostile understudies loyal to Odinga or Musyoka.
Labour and Social Protection CAS and former Narok West MP Patrick Ole Ntutu, for example, one of Ruto's supporters in government, remains in office but with much reduced responsibilities.
Some complain the new CAS's will simply be used to spearhead political campaigning ahead of the 2022 polls.
Kenyatta's allies insist all the new appointees will be focused on implementing the President's 'Big Four' legacy agenda of delivering universal healthcare, half-a-million affordable houses, food security and increased manufacturing.
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