Kenyatta’s first major test: Nomination of Cabinet

11 Apr
Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta being sworn in as his wife Margaret watches on

After being sworn in on Tuesday at the Kasarani Stadium, Uhuru’s first major litmus test is expected to be his Cabinet given that unlike tradition, he is expected to name individuals who do not hold political office.
According to Article 152, Clause 3 of the Constitution; “A Cabinet Secretary shall not be a Member of Parliament”. That provision is a challenge to the President to only nominate professionals for cabinet as there is no room to reward political cronies as it were the case in the old Constitution. In the new law, too, the National Assembly will vet and approve or disapprove the cabinet nominees. However, with Kenyatta’s Jubilee having the majority’s mantle in the National Assembly, approval by the House may not be as much of a challenge as it would have been the case would it have been a minority.
Even as Kenyatta deals with professionalism of his cabinet, that is arguably the least of his worries. After his election, the nation was left divided right in the middle. After an election in any democracy, it is usual for a nation to be divided but given that Kenya is still reeling from the fatal blow from division after the 2007 elections, Kenya’s division is a delicate matter.
Kenyatta in his Tuesday speech sought to assure the nation and visitors present that he would unite all Kenyans and serve them equally, whether they voted for him or his competitors. Deputy President William Ruto also vowed that he would ensure elections in Kenya would never be a source of ethnic strife as has been the case since the onset of multipartism.
Thus, while nominating his cabinet, Kenyatta will be facing his first major test in uniting Kenyans. The cabinet must reflect a regional balance. Regional balance stems beyond sycophancy and the nominees must be seen as capable of executing their duties without appearing servile.
In the previous regime, Kibaki was infamous for appointing his cronies to cabinet and they in turn appointed members from their community to head various key positions in parastatals. Kenyatta must ensure he is not a reflection of Kibaki’s nonchalant politics and his cronies’ nepotism.
It will be interesting, too, for Kenyans to see how Kenyatta appoints Cabinet Secretaries in the key dockets of Security, Finance, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs. The Jubilee Government made a host of promises before their election and Kenyans, albeit with a pinch of skeptism, are looking forward to the fulfillment of these promises. Treasury will need a Secretary who has Solomonic wisdom to deliver without pushing Kenyans’ taxes any higher.
Kenya has been plagued by insecurity with unprecedented attacks by Somalia’s militia group Al-Shabaab. Cattle rustling has also been a thorny issue and any attempts to curb it has been met with a bloody opposition with the most notable case being the ambush and gunning down of dozens of police officers in Baragoi.
The Agriculture docket will be key in ensuring that Kenyans sustain themselves. Perennial drought and subsequent famine has been a colossal challenge especially due to lack of implementation of long term policies like reduced dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto have been indicted by the ICC and they have an ardous task ahead of ensuring that relations between Kenya and the west are not sour. This is especially due to the awkward situation the West and Kenya are in given that the election of Kenyatta was largely seen as a rejection of “Western imperialism”.

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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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