Water CS Eugene Wamalwa and his Energy counterpart Charles Keter joined other politicians during a rally Bomet Green Stadium on Saturday
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Cabinet has hit the campaign trail to marshal support for his re-election ahead of the August 8 General Election.
Although the law prohibits Cabinet Secretaries from engaging in politics, the top public servants have thrown caution to the wind and embarked on an aggressive drive to woo support for President Kenyatta and his Jubilee government.
Both the Constitution and Elections Act bars State officers from engaging in active politics, which is not limited only to vying for elective posts but also participating in political party activities such as campaigns. The Public Officers’ Ethics Act and leadership and integrity laws require that a public officer should not engage in political activities that may compromise or be seen to interfere with the neutrality of their office.
In spite of all these laws, several CSs appear to have been deployed to various parts of the country not only to “launch and coordinate” development projects but also convince voters why they should re-elect President Kenyatta and DP William Ruto. Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries (PSs) were first deployed to campaigns during the recent mass voter registration in the guise that the exercise was a civic duty.
But following the closure of the registration, nearly the entire Cabinet and their PSs have appeared in key campaign platforms either in rallies or town hall meetings.Sources indicate that a coded statement from President Kenyatta during a Cabinet meeting recently may have prompted the flurry of activities being co-ordinated by the public servants.
State House’s take
The President is said to have told his Cabinet that the polls were here and he was going to traverse the country to seek votes “na nyinyi mjipange’ (organise yourselves) and said he would respect the verdict of voters.
Among the most conspicuous ministers on the campaign trial are Joseph Nkaissery (Interior), Fred Matiang’i (Education), Sicily Kariuki (Planning, Youth and Gender), Charles Keter (Energy), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Dan Kazungu (Mining), Najib Balala (Tourism), Eugene Wamalwa (Water) Ali Wario (Sports) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).
State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu says the ministers are out there telling Kenyans what the government has done as part of the accountability question, as Kenyans expect them to tell what the administration has done as required by law. He says this should not be equated to campaigns.
“Secondly, they are ministers because they were appointed by the President and they are agents of the President who inform the public on the progress of implementing the key promises that the government gave during campaigns,” says Esipisu.
When asked if the CSs were violating the law, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale quipped, “The ministers were appointed by Jubilee and they are campaigning for Jubilee; is there anything wrong with that?”
Last weekend, Kiunjuri, Kazungu and Wamalwa not only attended a Jubilee rally in Malindi, but also addressed the forum and asked the Coast region to shun Opposition leaders and vote for Jubilee.
A fortnight ago, Balala graced the Jubilee rally at Tononoka Grounds in Mombasa that was attended by Uhuru and Ruto. After the rally, the President sent another team to Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu last Friday to allay claims that Jubilee had sidelined the region. The team was led by JP Secretary General Raphael Tuju and CSs Wario and Mucheru.
They were accompanied by Sports PS Robert Okudo, Youth and Public Service PS Lillian Omollo and Youth Enterprise Development Fund board chairman Ronnie Osumba.
Nkaissery has been leading Jubilee campaigns in Maasai land where people largely voted for the Opposition in 2013.