All eyes on Ruto as he prepares to name Principal Secretaries

4 min

President William Ruto addresses newly sworn-in Cabinet Secretaries at State House in Nairobi on October 27, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

President William Ruto is expected to unveil 50 Principal Secretaries to head various state departments after he received a list of 250 shortlisted candidates from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

This will be significant since the Cabinet Secretaries, Ruto appointed officially assumed duties last Thursday after they were sworn into office and have already hit the ground running in efforts to ensure the government delivers on its agenda.

The President’s allies are among those who were shortlisted and it will be interesting to see if he will reward loyalty or he will pick professionals to be the accounting officers for the various state departments with politicians already serving as CSs.

“I look forward to work with each one of you to transform our country and execute our manifesto, you will have my wholesome support since you have no option but to succeed, your success will be an achievement for this administration,” said Ruto during swearing in of CSs.

Politicians who supported Ruto’s presidential bid but lost in the August General Election are among those who applied for the PS jobs.

It will be interesting to see if Ruto will retain some PSs who served in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government given that they were shortlisted.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is on record saying that the Kenya Kwanza administration will first reward the people who stood with them during campaigns.

“Those who planted first are the ones who are going to harvest first then those who came in later. You all know the people who stood with us as we moved around the country in search of votes, we will not let them down when there is an opportunity,” said Mr Gachagua.

Political risk analyst Dismus Mokua said that Ruto has the Kenya Kwanza manifesto to implement in the next five years with the probability of getting a second term substantially increasing if his administration delivers on all the election promises.

Mr Mokua said that the President has got no other option but to attract, retain and reward top talent and will require a mix of vertical and horizontal thinkers, young and old, public and private sectors professionals who have capacity and competence to deliver their mandate.

“There is nothing wrong in having politicians taking up Principal Secretaries roles provided they have the capacity and competence and are willing to give up politics as they serve the nation in their new duties in the next five years that is perfectly okay,” he said.

The political risk analyst said that the most important thing is that all PSs must have key performance indicators as a strategy to reward meritocracy and punish mediocrity not forgetting that the final list should be aligned to Chapter Six of the Constitution.

Strategic Communication Advisor Barack Muluka said that the distinction that Kenyans have been trying to draw between professionals and politicians is largely spurious and it is possible to be both terming the imposed distinctions as being hackneyed and clichéd.

“Someone can be a politician and a professional at the same time, let us not demonise Kenyans who have served as politicians when they are given civil service jobs, the bottom line here is professionalism and adherence to the civil service code of ethics,” said Dr Muluka.

Ruto’s loyalists who have been shortlisted for PS jobs include former Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, former Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal, former Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, former Langata MP Nixon Korir, former Nominated MP David Sankok and former Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.

Others are former Nairobi Deputy Governor Jonathan Mueke, former Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, Benjamin Tayari (former Kinango MP), Michael Kingi (former Magarini MP), Patrick Mariru (former Laikipia West MP), Sylvanus Maritim (former Ainamoi MP) and Korei Lemein (former Narok South MP).

The President’s legal adviser Dr Korir Sing’oei, Prof Edward Kisiang’ani, who served in the President’s communication committee in campaigns, Alfred Ombudo, Dr Irene Asienga and Dr Robert Muriithi who served as economic advisors were shortlisted.

PSC also shortlisted, IEBC Commissioner Boya Molu, IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati’s wife Mary Chebukati, Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka’s wife Dr Margaret Makelo and IEBC corporate communication manager Tabitha Mutemi.

Current PSs who were interviewed include Susan Mochache (Health), Charles Sunkuli (Youth Affairs), Dr Julius Jwan (Education), Nelson Marwa (Social Protection), Dr Chris Kiptoo (Environment and Forestry), Peter Kaberia (Industrialisation), Esther Koimett (Broadcasting &Telecommunications) and Dr Belio Kipsang (Regional and Northern Corridor Development).

Others are PSs Simon Nabukwesi (Education) Saitoti Torome (Planning), Francis Owino (Agriculture), Jerome Ochieng (ICT), Charles Hinga (Housing), Margaret Mwakimu (TVET), Fred Sigor (Wildlife) Fatuma Chege (Education), Joseph Irungu(Water) and Raymond Ouma (Youth Affairs Secretary).

PSs Josephta Mukobe (Heritage) Alfred Cheruiyot (Education) Enosh Momanyi (Physical Planning), Julius Korir(Devolution), Kevit Desai (East African Affairs) Nicholas Muraguri(Lands) and Safina Kwekwe (Correctional Services) were also shortlisted.

At least 9,154 people applied for the PS jobs with Commission shortlisting 585 candidates who faced five panels with the final list of 250 given to the President who is going to choose 50 of them to serve in his administration.

The President in his first Executive Order two weeks ago defined the structure of his government composed of 21 ministries and the State Law Office with some ministries having up to three state departments which indicates they will each have a PS.

Once the President unveils the PSs their names will be handed over to the National Assembly where they will be vetted by the relevant departmental committees to determine their suitability for the positions and if successful they will officially assume office.

The National Assembly has 44 committees which include 24 select committees and 20 departmental committees with the Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwah who is the Chairperson of the Selection Committee holding a meeting to finalise committee membership.

Once the list of membership in the 44 committees is completed they will be able to commence the vetting of the PS nominees.

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