Sat. Feb 16th, 2019

Week of hard decisions for Uhuru, Raila

President Uhuru Kenyatta visiting Matiba in hospital./PSCU

This will be a tense, make-or-break week in which many burning issues are expected to be resolved — or left festering.
Key among them are naming the new Cabinet by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the anxiously watched next steps of NASA chief Raila Odinga who has vowed he will be sworn as President in Mnangagwa-style on Tuesday next week.
Meanwhile, as the clock ticks down, the Jubilee administration is still reaching out behind the scenes to the former Prime Minister to reach some sort of accommodation tot defuse the crisis. This could explode if Raila were to be sworn in, in some fashion, and expand his boycott and resistance movement.
Six days into his second term, Uhuru today will consult with Parliament leaders to agree on the House calendar as he prepares to table his Cabinet nominees.
Uhuru is expected to nominate his Cabinet Secretaries this week but cannot do so unless Parliament has constituted the Appointments Committee to vet them.
xThe President has already asked CSs and PSs to prepare detailed handover notes, including the financial status of their dockets.
It is hoped Kenyatta will name his Cabinet by Tuesday next week when he will expound his vision for the next five years.
“The Jamhuri Day address will follow on the inauguration speech. This will have lots of details about what he wants to do. The expectation is that he will have named his Cabinet by then,”a source within the presidency said yesterday.
NASA has already stated it doesn’t recognise him as President and its members will not participate in the Cabinet vetting.
It has refused to name its representatives to the committee, expected to be constituted tomorrow. Jubilee can and will proceed without NASA, as it has the numbers. Speed is of the essence if the Cabinet is to be in place before Parliament adjourns for Christmas.
This is also the week students who sat the KCPE exam will know their secondary schools. The President ordered placement to Form One be completed before Jamhuri Day. The ministry is busy.
The Treasury is also busy drawing up a supplementary budget for Parliament, capturing Uhuru’s priorities so he can hit the ground running as soon as the government is formed.
Meanwhile, Raila is keeping everyone guessing about his intentions and preparations for his ‘swearing in’ expected on Jamhuri Day. This is despite opposition among veteran members who say inauguration is a step too far, too antagonistic and could be illegal. Arrests are not impossible. Young hardliners are pushing for some kind of swearing in.
Beyond his mysterious plans, Raila must contend with schemes by the state to infiltrate the opposition and lure some MPs to join the appointments panel or back down from resistance.
xxAt Treasury, CSs, some performing their last major function, will be combing budget lines to reallocate resources to Uhuru’s priority areas christened ‘legacy projects’ or pet projects.
CSs and their PSs will meet Treasury technocrats to defend their 2018-2019 budgets under pressure to ensure they are in sync with Uhuru’s agenda.
The President, sworn in for a second term last Tuesday, aims to build his own legacy, focus on specific sectors and plug holes in those marred by controversy, massive corruption and unsatisfactory delivery.
“Adequate funding must be found and resources aligned accordingly,” reads a memo dated November 29 by Treasury CS Henry Rotich to all CSs.
Uhuru wants to focus on four areas: universal healthcare, manufacturing, food and nutrition security.
Budget reviews will result in massive cuts for areas that do not fall under Uhuru’s pet projects.
Uhuru hopes to spur development momentum at a time international finance organisations and the National Treasury have cut their forecast on growth.
Raila’ s boycott call — and plans to expand it — complicate matters for Uhuru and his strategy to deal with Raila. The boycott will hurt growth of sectors critical to driving the economy and Uhuru’s plans.
Uhuru and DP William Ruto are secretly crafting their Cabinet. It is expected to include political heavyweights and fewer technocrats in a balancing act focussed on the Uhuru’s legacy and Ruto’s springboard to what he hopes will be the presidency in 2022.
Uhuru is to unveil a Cabinet expanded fro 20 to 22, the constitutional maximum, as he balances regional, loyalty, gender and succession interests.
President and Parliament could broker a delayed recess to vet CSs.
Recess is scheduled from Friday until February 2, 2018.
The Star has established behind-the scenes talks are aimed at a two-week postponement.
A senior Jubilee MP told the Star MPs could vote on Thursday to push the adjournment date December 21 to enable the House approve the Cabinet.
National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi yesterday told the Star NASA will not participate in the vetting process.
The Suba South MP said NASA will not send members to the committee until the office the President will be occupied “substantively”.
“We have made our position clear, will not be used to rubber-stamp an unconstitutional government,” he told the Star in a phone interview.
Because of its numbers, Jubilee could bulldoze through formation of the panel, but the vetting process and outcome would be plagued by claims it’s an exclusive Jubilee affair.
This week will be critical for the opposition as it crystallises plans for the swearing in and mega fete.
Raila earlier refused to be sworn in on the day Uhuru was sworn in, causing massive disaffection and anger among his supporters.
The Star has established a NASA subcommittee has been holding meetings at Capitol Hill, Raila’s office, to plan the jamboree.
Raila would be sworn in during the inauguration of the National People’s Assembly, an idea aimed at undermining Uhuru’s administration.
Concerned with anxiety among his supporters, Raila last Tuesday told them not to be lose hope.
“I will be sworn in as President of Kenya on Jamhuri Day through the People’s Assembly, and go to State House,” Raila told backers at Manyanja Road, Donholm hours after Uhuru took oath.
Yesterday a daring opposition said they were considering relentless demonstrations to occupy State House from December 12, posing a security nightmare. And certain crackdown and arrests.
They said tens of thousands of supporters would march to the House on the Hill to force the resignation of President Uhuru.
“We will swear in Raila and then march to State House. It may appear unimaginable but it is a moment we are savoring, I can tell you,” Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi told the Star yesterday.