Uhuru Kenyatta’s Exit: Did His Manpower Aid His Legacy?

Uhuru Kenyatta’s Exit: Did His Manpower Aid His Legacy?

  • The majority of men and women who shaped the outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta’s 10-year administration have fallen by the wayside as a new crop of political deal-makers begin to take positions around President-elect William Ruto Kenyatta and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

Increasingly, the ring of powerbrokers in President Ruto’s administration is beginning to take shape, with Moses Wetangula emerging as a key player.

Kenyatta’s power men and women joined his inner circle through two or three key routes: As members of the wealthy Central Kenya elite, handshake and professionals who got to the table through their perceived expertise in certain areas, especially during his campaigns.

They operated largely outside the public domain, but their influence during Kenyatta’s decade-long reign is said to have been immense. They were part of a small coterie of men and women the outgoing president bestowed the utmost trust in.

The likes of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i were one of the vocal men in Kenyatta’s reign. Described as a “super minister”, Matiang’i, a former personal assistant to former powerful minister Simeon Nyachae, is said to enjoy the President’s total confidence, trust and unfettered access.

In a recent letter to the principal administrative secretaries, Inspector general of police, Director of criminal investigations, permanent secretaries and regional commissioners, Matiang’i narrated his five years in office after he took over from the late retired Major General Joseph Nkaiserry on July 17, 2017.

The cabinet secretary expressed gratitude to President Uhuru Kenyatta for trusting him with the sensitive assignment of presiding over the interior security docket. “I want to thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for bestowing his trust in me. I am humbled by the privilege to serve in his Cabinet in four different ministries during his ten-year tenure,” Matiang’i said.

Uhuru’s active politics changed when Justin Muturi the seventh Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya intervened to change Uhuru’s active politics. The vital cog in the wheel of legislating the Jubilee agenda cut ties with his long-time ally, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In a TV interview on Monday, April 11, Muturi, who recently shelved his presidential bid, stated that he felt uncomfortable with the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party which has the blessing of the Head of State.

He added that he was willing to work with Kenyatta who has been a confidant for a long time, but he (Muturi) was hesitant to support former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s candidature.

The two-term speaker of the National Assembly further detailed that after thinking through his political options, he opted for the Kenya Kwanza faction explaining that their messaging resonated with him.

Joseph Kinyua, the former Finance Permanent Secretary, who worked under Uhuru at Treasury, serves as Head of Public Service.

In State House circles, Kinyua is referred to as the “elder in the room” and Uhuru saw him as a highly experienced technocrat who was key in implementing the Big 4 Agenda.

Nearing the end of his second and final term, President Kenyatta’s relationship with his deputy and likely successor William Ruto took a turn in early 2018, when the latter entered into a pact with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Raila Odinga played a major part in contributing to Kenyatta’s legacy through the handshake. The 2017 political leadership in Kenya was accused of hurling Agenda 4 into abeyance thereby putting lasting peace at risk. The Chairlady of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission said of it, “There is so much that remains to be done. People are more polarized than ever before. Institutional reforms have stalled due to lack of leadership and political commitment to the letter and spirit of the Constitution” (Menya, 2017).

This rapprochement between Raila Odinga (opposition leader) and Uhuru Kenyatta (President) therefore pointed to the need for full conflict transformation in Kenya.

Ruto and Kenyatta have been marked with accusations and counter-accusations from both sides until the end when the outgoing President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta failed to congratulate his new replacement William Ruto days after the Supreme Court of Kenya reaffirmed the poll results.

And now, with the curtains having come down on Ruto’s tenure last month, many of these men power have to get used to life outside the inner sanctums of power. By most accounts, the majority will have problems adjusting.