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Why President Uhuru shuffled his principal secretaries

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing press at State house on 18, February 2017. PHOTO BY EDWARD KIPLIMO.

Defiance by Irrigation Principal Secretary Patrick Nduati over Sh36 billion Thwake Dam tender triggered the reshuffling of 11 more of his colleagues as President Uhuru Kenyatta moved to assert the authority of his Cabinet Secretaries.

Nduati was moved to the State Department of Industry and Enterprise Development, replacing Dr Julius Korir who has been transferred to the Health ministry.

Nduati defied instructions from Water CS Eugene Wamalwa, Attorney General Githu Muigai and project financier African Development Bank to award the tender to China Gezhouba Group, the lowest evaluated bidder.

Wamalwa had written two memos to his PS but Nduati would hear none of it and on Monday proceeded to award the tender to another bidder at Sh3 billion more.

It was then that Wamalwa, who was in Turkana County launching ground water mapping programme, placed a call to President Kenyatta. Wamalwa reportedly told the President that his duties as Water CS were no longer tenable with Nduati as his Irrigation PS.

He is said to have told President Kenyatta that Nduati had twice disregarded his advice and that of Attorney General and ultimately awarded the tender to a bidder who had been declared financially non-responsive by the evaluation committee.

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The President, we learnt, did not offer Wamalwa much response at the time of the call, only saying, “I will look into it. Just do your job.”

On Wednesday, a source close to State House told The Saturday Standard that Nduati’s future at the Water Ministry was shaky, following his protracted battle with his bosses. Two days later, Nduati was transferred.

The President seems to have taken the opportunity to equally move other PSs largely seen as having poor working relationships with their Cabinet Secretaries. The President reshuffled 12 PSs.

Health Services PS Nicholas Muraguri, who is still battling graft allegations at the ministry, was moved to the Lands Ministry.

Dr Muraguri has had a long standing friction with CS Cleopa Mailu over the management of the Health docket, with the recent doctors’ strike that lasted over 100 days being blamed on the PS.

Zainab Hussein will move from Gender Affairs Department to replace Nduati as Irrigation PS.

Sports PS Richard Ekai, who has had operational differences with CS Hassan Wario, moves to Correction Services. Amb Ekai replaces Micah Powon who has been moved to Devolution.

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Ekai and his boss have been trading accusations on who should take responsibility for the mess team Kenya suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

Others affected include the youngest PS Irungu Nyakera who leaves the lucrative Transport docket to head Planning and Statistics in place of Torome Saitoti who will now head Defence Docket.

Irungu has reportedly been attracting negative reports from National Intelligence Service (NIS), some of which suggest presence of too many brokers moving into each of the parastatals under him. Sources say the brokers use their friendship with Nyakera to intimidate managers in their pursuit for tenders. Amb Peter Kaberia, who was at the Defence Ministry, will replace Ekai at the Sports Ministry as Mwanamaka Mabruk leaves Devolution for Gender Affairs.

Dr Paul Mwangi makes a lateral movement from Public Works to replace Nyakera at Transport, while Maraim El Maawy leaves the Lands docket to replace Mwangi.

On Friday, State House said the changes coming only three months to the General Election are meant to improve service delivery.

“The President has purposed the changes to enhance teamwork and improve the accountability for results in the execution of the Government’s responsibilities,” said State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

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Our varsities are in need of urgent radical surgery to survive