Uhuru to meet Cabinet amid growing anxiety

  by Seth Onyango


After close to a three-month hiatus, President Uhuru Kenyatta has today convened a Cabinet meeting in what is seen as a move to whip members to speak in one voice amid disquiet caused by the ongoing war on corruption.

The heightened crackdown on corruption has led to the arrest and prosecution of high-profile individuals hitherto regarded as untouchable. Sources say some of those on the radar of investigating agencies are in the Cabinet.

The disquiet was summed by Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter who was unhappy with the manner in which Kenya Power managers were arrested and charged over corruption last month.  Keter said the managers had been treated inhumanely.

Last year, the Cabinet  kept a regular schedule but  is  said not to have met since May despite the heavy schedule linked to the President’s Big Four agenda and the fight against graft.

On Sunday, the President alluded to the underlying unease in his administration when he said he had lost friends in the renewed war on impunity, particularly the demolition of buildings on riparian land in Nairobi.

“I have lost close friends over the war on corruption. We must be ready to lose friends and do what is right in the eyes of God,” he said at the Faith Evangelic Ministry in Karen, Nairobi.

“A time has come for us to fight impunity. No matter how powerful you are, which high office you hold, how much wealth you have or how many people you know in high positions, that will not save you,” he added.

Deputy William Ruto, whose allies have raised concern about alleged sidelining of their man, especially after the March 9 Handshake between Uhuru and  Opposition leader Raila Odinga, attended the service.

According to sources, the President had avoided convening Cabinet meetings partly because of the growing suspicions in the ruling Jubilee to “ward off influence peddlers”.

Early in the month, Uhuru retreated to a solo working holiday at the Coast, triggering rumours of an impending Cabinet reshuffle in which some members would be dropped. The President, however, dismissed the speculation.

But that did not assuage the speculation that the President’s decision not to convene a Cabinet meeting for an unusually long time is evidence of cracks in the ruling party and in the presidency and that he could be using the break to re-organise the Cabinet to fit his second-term agenda.

It has emerged some CSs have not had contact with the President during the “Cabinet recess”.

Some CSs, especially those that have either been linked directly or through close associates to corruption, are said to be walking on eggshells, not sure about their fate.

But on top of the President’s concerns, according to sources, is political responsibility for corruption, his determination to achieve the Big Four agenda and poor performance by some Cabinet secretaries.

Last week, a highly placed Jubilee politician told People Daily that heads would roll in the Cabinet over corruption.

“There will be no witch-hunt. CSs who will be found culpable of graft will be dropped and replaced. But that is something that will take time,” said the source who did not want to be named.

Besides corruption, Uhuru, whose performance in the next four years will likely determine his legacy, is said to be unhappy about laxity among some members of the Cabinet who are likely to be axed in a reshuffle.

When he witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of the last of the nine CS to be approved by Parliament in February, Uhuru warned that there would be no room for laxity in his new Cabinet, warning those who fail to deliver will be sent packing.

He said Kenyans expected and an open, transparent and accountable government that is easily accessible, responsive and committed to excellence.

“This might also be the appropriate time to say that should you, at any time, feel the weight is too much, just say so, and we will find another deserving Kenyan to take your place,” he said, adding that his second term would be “business unusual” for those who will not deliver to the expectation of Kenyans.

But corruption remains the elephant in the room with several members of the Cabinet being linked to allegations of cover-up and abuse of office.

Among controversies bedevilling CSs include the Ruaraka land saga, the sugar importation scam, the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) maize scandal and the rhino translocation debacle which resulted in the death of 10 black rhinos at the Tsavo National Park.

Another scandal with far-reaching ramifications that may implicate CSs include Kenya Power transformers probe over which a number of top managers have already been charged.

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