7 Years 18 Replacements: Did Uhuru Get it Wrong With Cabinet?

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta has over the seven years of his presidency reshuffled the cabinet a number of times resulting in the ouster of several individuals as cabinet secretaries.

    Kenyans.co.ke reflected on 18 appointments by the head of state to the cabinet and the subsequent incidents that resulted in their sacking or resignation.

    First Cabinet

    On April 25, 2013, President Kenyatta appointed 18 to the cabinet. However, as of February 14, only six (Fred Matiang'i, James Macharia, Raychelle Omamo, Adan Mohamed, Amina Mohammed, Najib Balala) have remained.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Cabinet Secretaries during the first cabinet meeting in 2013.

    On March 29, 2015 incumbent Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, then the Lands CS, stepped aside following a directive by the head of state that all officials of the county and national governments named by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) report on graft step down pending investigations as reported by Citizen Digital.

    A report by the Standard on April 1, 2015, revealed that Ngilu was under investigation for links to a cartel that was responsible for the fraudulent acquisition of land through her ministry. She was accused of receiving kickbacks after the overvaluation of pieces of land purchased by the national government. 

    Felix Kosgei then CS for Agriculture, David Chirchir (Energy), Kazungu Kambi (Labour) and Engineer Michael Kamau (Transport and Infrastructure) were suspended in March 2015 as they were under investigation over graft.

    Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, then CS for Devolution and Planning was subject to investigations in a scandal involving the loss of Ksh790 million by the National Youth Service (NYS).

    However, she resigned as cabinet secretary on November 21, 2015, categorically stating that the decision had nothing to do with charges against her but rather medical issues and a doctor's recommendation.

    "I have, therefore, following my doctor's advice, requested the President to relieve me of my responsibilities and, should he find it fit, to accord me such lighter duties as he shall deem appropriate," Waiguru stated during a press briefing at the Harambee House.

    On November 22, 2015, President Kenyatta announced a cabinet reshuffle dropping the five CSs linked to corruption. He appointed Dan Kazungu (Labour), Charles Keter (Energy), Willy Bett (agriculture).

    President Uhuru Kenyatta when he chaired a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, on January 30, 2020.

    Mwangi Kiunjuri made a debut into Uhuru's cabinet, replacing Waiguru as Devolution and Planning CS.

    James Macharia was moved to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure following Engineer Kamau's ouster and was replaced by Cleopa Mailu as CS for Health.

    Second Cabinet

    On January 26, 2018, President Kenyatta appointed a new cabinet that he then stated would help him and Deputy President William Ruto realise the Big Four Agenda.

    “As I stated in my New Year’s address that in the following weeks I will be naming men and women who will join me in delivering our promises to Kenyans, today I wish to name a few whom I wish to join me in working together to fulfil our agenda to fellow Kenyans,” he announced.

    Kazungu (Labour), Jacob Kaimenyi (Education), Phyllis Kandie (East African affairs, Commerce and Tourism), Kiema Kilonzo, Judy Wakhungu (Environment), Hassan Wario (Sports), Cleopa Mailu (Health) and Bett (Agriculture) were shown the door.

    Building up to the ouster Kaimenyi had on several occasions been subject to criticism for alleged incompetence, including when the Standard on April 14, 2015, reported that the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) led by Secretary-General Wilson Sossion called for the sacking of Kaimenyi citing a crisis in the Education sector.

    From left; Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang'i, James Macharia, and Adan Mohamed during a meeting at State House, Nairobi, on January 30, 2020.

    Wario was in the spotlight over the disappearance of Ksh88 million that was intended for Kenyan athletes during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    It was alleged that the former CS and Olympics legend Kipchoge Keino along with seven other high ranking officials had either misused or looted money allocated to the team resulting in one of the most scandalous international outings in Kenya’s athletics history.

    Mailu was at the centre of a Ministry of Health crisis that involved nurses in the country accusing him of dishonesty and political meddling. They had alleged that the CS allowed for county governments to sack all striking health workers.

    The nurses were in the midst of a 119-day strike and were determined to have their demands met despite the ousters.

    The reshuffle which took place on the same date as the firings welcomed Margaret Kobia (Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), John Munyes (Petroleum and Mining), Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), Simon Chelugui (Water), Rashid Echesa (sports), Farida Karoney (Lands), Ukur Yattani (Labour), Peter Munya (East African Community), Raphael Tuju (without portfolio), and Keriako Tobiko (Environment) into government.

    On March 1, 2019, Echesa through an executive order by the head of state, was fired from the sports docket.

    "In accordance with Article 152(5) of the Constitution, as read together with Article 152(1)(d) of the Constitution, the appointment of Mr Rashid Echesa Mohamed, as a Cabinet Secretary has been vacated," the order read in part.

    Echesa had served as CS for a year, one month and two days as of the day of his sacking. He was often accused of doing little to improve the country's sporting infrastructure, especially after Kenya had lost the hosting rights for the 2018 Africa Nations Championships.

    During his vetting, the former Kakamega ODM youth leader's academic credentials were subject to criticism.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretaries during a meeting at State House, Nairobi, on January 30, 2020.

    Kiunjuri and Henry Rotich were the most recent casualties of the President Kenyatta axe that descended on January 14, 2020.

    Rotich was on July 23, 2019, barred from accessing his office and executing the office of CS for National Treasury following an investigation into the multi-billion Kimwarer and Aror dam scandals.

    The former CS is facing 24 charges among them abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud.

    On the other hand, Kiunjuri was in 2018 scolded by President Kenyatta after funds meant to pay maize farmers were allegedly paid to a cartel leaving farmers high, dry and broke, as reported by Citizen Digital.

    Kiunjuri was accused of poorly handling and preparing for the locust menace that hit the country causing the destruction of food.

    President Kenyatta has replaced CSs 18 times, with several facing graft charges, prompting questions as to whether the head of state has always made the right appointments.