When he unveiled the new look cabinet on Tuesday night, President Uhuru Kenyatta left little doubt that he wants to bury the ghosts that have haunted his two-and-a-half year old administration.
Keen to have a Cabinet that can also offer political advice in times of crisis, Mr Kenyatta dropped his earlier decision to run a Cabinet of technocrats.
If the nominees are approved by the National Assembly, about a third of his cabinet will now be made up of politicians.
These are Kericho Senator Charles Keter (energy), Malindi MP Dan Kazungu (mining) and former Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi, an ally of the President, says injecting more political stamina explains the change of heart.
“We are in the last bend to 2017 elections and as such, the President needed to blend professional acumen with experienced political hands,” he said.
Other CSs with a political background are Joseph Nkaissery (interior), Najib Balala (tourism) and Eugene Wamalwa (water and irrigation).
TECHNOCRATS FALLEN SHORT
In his first Cabinet in 2013 the President said that other than himself and his deputy, there would be no other politician.
He appointed technocrats to key dockets but the CSs have fallen short particularly on issues that require political shrewdness.
With opinion surveys pointing to sagging popularity, the urgency to act could not have been greater. Mr Kenyatta thus re-engineered his team, sacking all the suspended ministers over graft allegations.
In so doing, the President shed a tag in the corridors of the Harambee House that he has never sacked anybody in his public life.
Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi describes the reshuffle as “a masterstroke”.
“The appointments served to unify the country, the pick of cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries is broadly spread.”
TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja said that after the President launched a bold action plan on corruption on Monday, they do not expect the opposition to politicise the push. But the opposition has described Mr Kenyatta’s appointment as “parochial”.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said that he expected a breath of fresh air in a reconstituted Cabinet.
“The Cabinet does not meet conditional quotas for regional and gender balance. In fact the women of Kenya have lost big. The original six women have been reduced to five in a Cabinet of twenty-one,” he said.
“They moved people who have failed in one docket and threw them in another. What we expected was a complete overhaul,” said Ugunja MP and ODM’s secretary for political affairs Opiyo Wandayi.
Making the changes just hours to the arrival of Pope Francis was a clever move by Mr Kenyatta to escape the Opposition’s negativity.
“He took advantage of the Pope’s visit to avoid any backlash,” says Dr Joshua Kivuva, a political analyst.
Meanwhile, the reshuffled also ushers in a new round of by-elections.
With parties affiliated to the ruling Jubilee coalition folding to form one outfit next month, loses for the new outfit would be unwelcome.
Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are therefore expected to marshal their troops in a fight for their lives as this will be the launchpad for their 2017 re-election bid.
A repeat of the Kajiado central poll in March where JAP candidate Patrick ole Tutui lost to ODM’s Memusi Kanchory would be a blow to Jubilee.
Against complaints by ODM party that Mr Kenyatta has made a habit of raiding it for ministers Mr Sakaja said no law barred him from doing so.
“The president is at liberty to pick ministers from wherever he wants as long as they add value in public service. Mr Kazungu had shown interest in working with us when in parliament,” he said.
Both retired Maj-Gen Nkaissery who is also a former Kajiado Central MP and now Mr Kazungu were elected to Parliament on an ODM ticket.