Deputy President William Ruto missed out on a critical meeting of top government officials chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta as the relationship between the country’s top two bosses deteriorates.
During the virtual meeting bringing together all Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Chief Administrative Secretaries, the President outlined his government’s development priorities for the new financial year that began on July 1.
He also set new performance indicators — with the rate of completion of projects being listed as a key priority — even as a major reshuffle within the Executive looms.
But as Uhuru was re-energising his team which will play a key role in consolidating his legacy, the DP was hosting a delegation of church leaders from Nyeri county in his Karen office.
Sources said it was Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who chairs the powerful National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee who invited the President to speak.
Asked why Ruto was absent, Ruto’s deputy secretary of communication Emmanuel Talam told the Star “the DP cannot refuse to attend any such meeting and he cannot also gatecrash meetings he is not invited”.
“You cannot skip a meeting to which you’ve not been invited. Find out from Kanze Dena (State House spokesperson) or Joseph Kinyua (Secretary to Cabinet) if the DP was invited,” Talam said.
In a dispatch to the media, the President said the Matiang’i team and another chaired by Interior PS Karanja Kibicho had proved “their effectiveness in overseeing government development programmes.”
Kibicho chairs the National Development Implementation Technical Committee.
“As a measure of accountability, the President announced that completion rate of projects and programmes will be adopted as a key performance indicator for all CS,CAS and PS,” Dena announced.
She went on: “The President said collective responsibility should be demonstrated by enhanced presence and visibility of government on the ground through inspection of projects and robust public engagement.”
The Star has established that on Monday while Uhuru addressed the nation from Harambee House on Covid-19 restrictions flanked by CSs and PSs, the DP was at his office at Harambee Annex which is just directly opposition Harambee House.
Some sources said Ruto has not been able to attend most of the high ranking government meetings “unless outrightly sanctioned by the President’s handlers”.
Last week, Ruto missed two key State events.
First, was the marking of 100 days in office by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services where the President was the chief guest and the closure of a training of officers who will oversee the countrywide rollout of Kazi Mtaani initiative.
The relationship between Uhuru and Ruto nosedived in early March this year after the DCI linked Ruto’s office to the killing of police officer Kipyegon Kenei who until his death was guarding Harambee Annex.
The murder remains unresolved.
Ruto publicly protested that security agencies working under the instructions of “the system” were out to destroy his 2022 presidential bid.
Ruto, by virtue of being the second in command, ought to be attending the crucial National Security Council meetings but since his attack on the “deep state” he has not received invitation.
For Cabinet, NSC and other high ranking meetings, invitation can either come directly from the President or the office of Secretary to the Cabinet Joseph Kinyua.
Reached for a comment, State House said the Tuesday meeting was not organised by the office of the President but rather the normal weekly meetings chaired by Matiang’i and Kibicho.
CASs have not been attending the Matiang’i meetings which are held every Tuesday, initially at Matiangi’s Harambee House office but due to Covid-19, they are currently done virtually.
It is not clear whether the Ministry of Interior extended an invite to the DP or not.
“Today’s meeting was the usual meeting (project review meeting) held every Tuesday by Cabinet Secretaries and PSs pursuant to Executive Order No. 1 of 2019; which EO elevated the Ministry of Interior as the the coordinator for all flagship state programmes and projects,” Dena told the Star.
She added, “It therefore follows that His Excellency the President and his deputy don’t attend the project review sessions. However, the President elected to be in attendance today largely to energise his team as we kick-off the new fiscal year.”
On Sunday, Ruto claimed that his allies were being prosecuted to frustrate his presidential bid.
He said some were being taken to court over corruption while others were being demoted, in reference to the recent purge in Parliament.
“Right now there are politicians who have been humiliated and frustrated, others have been dewhipped from their positions just because they are friends to the deputy president. I want you to pray for them so that they can have patience,”Ruto lamented.
In the meeting Uhuru is reported to have read the riot act to politicking CSs, CASs and PSs who have silently launched their campaigns for various positions ahead of 2022.Defiant Ruto forges Plan B, takes on Uhuru News2 days ago
At least six CSs and a host of PSs and CASs are said to be eyeing gubernatorial positions in the 2022 General Election and have tailored government projects to favour the counties they come from.
On several occasions, the President has warned civil servants to desist from engaging in politics but with the time ticking very fast to 2022, top government officials are deeply involved in succession politics.
The President is also said to have used the opportunity to align Executive to his agenda and smoothen the rough edges, whipping the CSs and their accounting officers to execute and articulate his agenda as he races against time to achieve his legacy.
Uhuru just acquired new allies in Kanu and Wiper and now is expected to ruthlessly prosecute his vision that will shape his legacy.
The meeting came weeks after the President oversaw far reaching changes in the leadership of Jubilee in Parliament, the epitome of crucial changes he intends to execute in the coming days.
In a statement from State House, Dena said the President reiterated his earlier directive that no new projects will be initiated except with his express authority, asking officials to strictly implement projects within set timelines and budgets.
“In his address, the President said government’s focus this financial year will be the implementation and completion of ongoing priority projects and programmes as set out in his administration’s Transformative Agenda for the Nation,” she noted.
The President called for collective responsibility in the implementation of government projects and programmes so as to ensure timely delivery of quality outcomes.
“The President said collective responsibility should be demonstrated by enhanced presence and visibility of government on the ground through inspection of projects and robust public engagements,” she said.
The Head of State acknowledged the current difficult economic environment occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and reminded government departments to settle pending bills as a key priority and to ensure that pending bills is the first charge on each ministry’s budget.
In support of local industries, Dena said the President directed that the government must walk the talk of Buy Kenya Build Kenya agenda and, once again, directed all ministries, state departments and agencies to give preferential procurement to Kenyan made goods and services.
Uhuru warned senior members of the Executive against corruption and malfeasance, saying there’s no room for the vices in his administration.