The missout of former Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi in last week’s newlook cabinet has left many tongues wagging moreso in his Nyeri backyard as to why Uhuru Kenyatta left out one of his top loyalists.
After retiring from the military early this year, Karangi was linked with the push for the establishment of the ministry of Homeland Security to co-ordinate the war on terror and combat other crimes.
At one time, he was forced to dismiss reports linking him to the establishment of the new ministry. Addressing this year’s Law Society of Kenya annual conference at Leisure Lodge, Kwale where he was one of the key speakers, Karangi made it clear that it was the prerogative of the president to create ministries and nobody else.
The head of state named Malindi MP Dan Kazungu as cabinet secretary Mining, Jacob Kaimenyi was moved from Education to Land, Fred Matiang’i from ICT to Education and James Macharia from Health to Transport.
The nominees are Mwangi Kiunjuri, Devolution and Planning, Willy Bett, Agriculture, Cecille Kariuki, Public Service, Sports and Youth, Joe Mucheru ICT, Charles Keter, Energy and Cleopa Mailu, Health.
Those who retained their positions or were moved to new ones are Judy Wakhungu, Environment and Natural Resources, Eugene Wamalwa, Water, Henry Rotich, Treasury, Hassan Wario, Sports, Joseph Nkaisserry, Interior, Amina Mohammed, Foreign Affairs, Najib Balala, Tourism, Phyllis Kandie, Labour, Rachel Omamo, Defence, Adan Mohammed, Industrialisation and Githu Muigai, Attorney General.
Sources say William Ruto blocked the appointment of Karangi and Constitutional Implementation Commission head Charles Nyachae owing largely to the strong influence they have on the presidency.
It is to be recalled that last month, the deputy president rejected a cabinet shuffle list Uhuru had presented for immediate adoption and release at a planned press conference at State House.
Ruto was not comfortable with Karangi and Nyachae, two men who are known to speak and who the president listens to.
The deputy president, according to sources, blames Karangi and former Director-General of the National Intelligence Service Michael Gichangi for his woes at the International Criminal Court.
His argument is that Karangi, being a member of the top security organ – National Security Advisory Committee – must have been in the know when the NIS prepared the report on the post-election violence part of which the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is using to nail him together with his co-accused, radio journalist Joshua Sang.
But other sources say the president also wanted to stamp his authority and at the same time tell off those who have been blackmailing him on the appointments of cabinet secretaries to replace those who stepped aside to pave way for investigations.
In Nyeri county, since Michael Kamau stepped aside as Transport and Infrastructure cabinet secretary and was eventually paraded in court to answer graft charges, some local politicians and leaders have been blaming Karangi for the woes facing the former CS.
At one time, and in what appeared to be blackmail, five of the six Nyeri MPs announced that they planned to table a protest motion in the national assembly to disband the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission secretariat for acting for vested political interests. They went short of stating that it was Karangi who was pushing the anti-graft body to prosecute Kamau for him to get a chance to the cabinet.
With the exception of Tetu MP Ndung’u Gathenji, the five MPs – Kanini Kega, Kieni, Mary Wambui, Othaya, Esther Murugi, Nyeri Town, Peter Kinyua, Mathira and Kabando wa Kabando, Mukurwe-ini said they were angered by the Director of Public Prosecution’s move to prosecute Kamau.
They termed Kamau, who hails from the region, as a sacrificial lamb for Karangi who, they claimed, was expected to be named to the cabinet.
The five MPs were echoing calls by a former Nyeri Town mayor, Wanyaga Gathaka, who broke the ice when he accused Nyeri elected leaders of keeping quiet when their son, Kamau, was being persecuted to pave way for the general to take his seat.
Gathaka recounted the history where every successful government vests its energies on sacrificing a leader from Nyeri, starting with the late Waruru Kanja who was the first victim of Jomo Kenyatta’s rule.
The vocal former Nyeri mayor said Uhuru’s father saw Kanja as a threat while the Kiambu mafia that surrounded him used all the tricks in the book to ensure he did not ascend to national limelight. “He was followed by Mwai Kibaki who was sacked unceremoniously by President Moi as the minister for Health and also the vice president,” said Gathaka while addressing the media after Kamau was paraded in court.
And in an indirect reference to powerful figures from Kiambu who surrounded Kibaki, Gathaka claimed that they were behind the axing of powerful Internal Security minister Chris Murungaru in the Kibaki administration.
Late former Defence minister Njenga Karume was accused as being the mastermind of Murungaru’s woes.
And during the burial of his mother, Kamau who was arrested by EACC officers on the day his mother passed on, said he was a victim of false accusations as his track record in three successive governments was good.
At the burial, Starehe MP Maina Kamanda claimed there was a cartel working to see Kamau ejected out of the government. Kega said a group had started advising the president to appoint other people to the position held by Kamau.
But on the other hand, other leaders led by Tetu MP Gethenji have been appealing to Kenyatta to hire Karangi for any post within the security docket saying the retired general is experienced, has merit and all the energy needed for him to serve in the government.
But Nyeri’s misfortune has turned to be a blessing for Laikipia county following the nomination of former Laikipia East MP Kiunjuri as Devolution cabinet secretary.
While thanking the president for nominating Kiunjuri, the county deputy speaker, Peter Kimondo said it was exactly 27 years since the region had a senior government officer.
By appointing Kiunjuri, the president was able to tame the growing feeling of isolation from the residents who feel all the state goodies were being channelled to Central Kenya, them counting only during the polls.
And by leaving out Nyeri in his appointments, the president was also sending out signals to three MPs from the region to stop acting as if they are in the opposition.
Kega, Murugi and Kabando were vocal in calling for the sacking of Anne Waiguru.
They also irked the head of state when they joined the opposition in celebrating her departure.
“Sycophants are now regretting their words, and although they called us names thinking we were on the opposition side, reality has ashamed them,” Kabando told the press after Waiguru announced her resignation.
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