President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday ordered ministers to cooperate with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, and told anyone disgruntled with his elevation as ‘development czar’ to quit.
Uhuru reminded the 21 CSs that he alone is the appointing authority and he will not hesitate to crack the whip on those sabotaging his agenda.
On January 21, the President reorganised his government, creating a four-tier executive authority with Matiang’i at the helm, bringing him to the heart of his administration.
The elevation, with supervisory roles across government, was seen as a strategic move to reduce the influence of Deputy President William Ruto.
Speaking later in Kitengela on his way to Arusha, the President said that he has directed Cabinet Secretaries to work harder to serve Kenyans.
He said Cabinet Secretaries must engage with Kenyans at the grassroots in order to better serve the needs of citizens.
The President cautioned Cabinet Secretaries who fail to serve the public as required, saying that those who cannot meet the requirements of their jobs are free to exit and pave way for other qualified Kenyans.
“During today’s Cabinet meeting I reminded our Cabinet Secretaries that there are many young Kenyans who are willing and ready to work if they felt they are not up to the task. Those who’ve chosen to keep politicking instead of serving the people should be ready to give way,” Uhuru said.
He said his administration is keen on delivering the promises made during the last general elections.
Shortly after the meeting at State House Nairobi, Ruto appeared to make a sharp U-turn on his 2022 presidential campaigns.
Ruto said he has never approved, canvassed or engaged in any form of preparation for a presidential or other campaign after the last presidential polls in 2017.
“It has come to the attention of the Deputy President that there are individuals and/or groups who are purporting to be mobilising support connected to his 2022 presidential campaign,” he said.
In a strongly worded statement, Ruto dismissed those campaigning for him make better use of their resources.
“The Deputy President therefore asks those running noisy charades and mock campaigns to use resources. He also demands that they leave his name out of their shenanigans,” Ruto said though his communications secretary David Mugonyi.
It was unclear what triggered the DP’s response, although he has been on a near weekly 2022 charm offensive known as the Tangatanga movement. Uhuru had famously criticised the DP for wandering aimlessly or loitering around the country.
The President reading the riot act to the Cabinet secretaries was the clearest signal that he had received intelligence on a silent mutiny against Matiang’i.
On Tuesday, the Star exclusively reported that turf wars had rocked the Cabinet with five ministers, two allied to Uhuru and three Ruto appointees, saying Matiang’s elevation is not anchored in law.
“As per the law, we are all equal, we are all performers. How will a colleague write to us asking us to brief him on the projects we are undertaking?” one CS asked, seeking anonymity for fear of reprisal.
But a stern President told his CSs that their focus must be on delivering services, especially his Big Four agenda, and not 2022 succession politics.
The meeting yesterday was the first full Cabinet sitting since Uhuru made the radical changes nearly two weeks ago.
“He [Uhuru] was firm that the executive order remains in force. He made it clear those unwilling to comply have the option of resigning,” a source familiar with the intrigues told the Star.
The President also told CSs that all ministerial appointments must be inclusive, and dishing out jobs based on ethnicity will not be tolerated.
Inclusivity is part of the nine-point agenda of the Building Bridges initiative spearheaded by Uhuru and his new political soulmate, Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
It remains to be seen if Ruto will cease his early 2022 campaigns after he openly denounced his backers.
“The Deputy President is a democrat and believes that campaigning must be done at the appropriate time, in an organised, systematic manner that gives candidates the opportunity to have quality engagement with the people within a political party and based on issues and policies,” Mugonyi said yesterday.
He went on, “At the moment, he [Ruto] is working to support the President to ensure that Jubilee’s transformational agenda, especially the Big Four, is fully realised in every part of the country.”
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, Kiharu MP Dindi Nyoro, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and ex-Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale are among leaders who have been drumming up support for Ruto.
The DP himself has been hosting delegations from various communities, with his eye on the top job.
Uhuru has warned on numerous occasions against distracting early campaigns.
On January 14, Uhuru reportedly told off Ruto about his ‘tangatanga’ travels in a closed-door meeting at State House.
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