Bigwigs scramble for deputy
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE and MUCHEMI WACHIRA
08. March 2008
Jostling for the post of deputy prime minister intensified on
Friday as politicians across the parties positioned themselves for
possible new roles in the expected unity Cabinet.
On the Government side, four Cabinet ministers are lobbying for
the position expected to be created next week when Parliament
meets to amend the Constitution and create the post of Prime
Minister. The position is widely expected to be filled by ODM
leader Raila Odinga.
Key leaders from both sides of the political divide have quietly
been staking their claim to the two posts of deputy premier which
are to be shared between the Government and ODM. The post is
attractive as the holders will rank higher than Cabinet ministers
and one of them will be assigned to sit in for the premier
whenever he is not available.
Lobbying for slots
Similar lobbying has been going on for ministerial slots and those
of assistant ministers. Sources indicated that President Kibaki is
set to increase the number of Cabinet slots to 36 when he names
the new Government.
The quest for the deputy premier’s seat has brought into focus
intra-party rivalry, heightened the political ambitions of women
MPs and stirred the hopes of youthful leaders in the 10th
Names of Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, Kiraitu Murungi, Uhuru
Kenyatta and George Saitoti have been mentioned in lobbying
sessions on the PNU side while those of MPs Musalia Mudavadi and
William Ruto are on the lips of their supporters in ODM.
The PNU affiliate parties — Narc Kenya, Kanu, Ford Kenya, Safina
and Democratic Party — have been caucusing in the week with a view
to laying claim to the one slot awarded to their side in the
power-sharing agreement signed by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga
on Thursday last week.
On Friday, a Kanu parliamentary group meeting at the Panafric
Hotel resolved to lobby for Mr Kenyatta, the party’s chairman, to
be appointed the deputy premier.
“After ODM, PNU and ODM Kenya, we are the senior-most party in
Parliament with 15 MPs,” Igembe South MP Mithuka Rinturi said.
He argued that President Kibaki is a PNU member, ODM was set to
land the seats of prime minister and deputy premier while
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is the ODM-K leader. “So Kanu
deserves the deputy PM post,” the MP said.
Across the road at Milimani Hotel, Ministers Kenyatta (Local
Government), Karua (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Amos
Kimunya (Finance) and Murungi (Energy) were meeting over what was
believed to be part of lobbying for the deputy PM’s post.
Sources close to the leaders said the real battle may end up being
between Mr Murungi and Ms Karua, on grounds that Mr Murungi
represents the wider Meru region while the Constitutional Affairs
minister represents women.
Speaking separately, Dagoretti MP Beth Mugo said women were
gunning for one of their own to be named the deputy premier. This,
she argued, will be in line with the policy of one-third of women
representation in leadership.
“We are claiming the position of deputy prime minister. There are
five top positions — the President, Vice President, Prime Minister
and two deputy premiers – and one must go to a woman. This is the
time to look the leaders in the eye so that they live up to their
pledges,” she said.
It is also understood that Narc Kenya held a meeting on Tuesday
under the chairmanship of former vice-president Moody Awori during
which the party MPs demanded the deputy PM’s post. They argued
that they were short-changed in the naming of Cabinet positions
despite being the biggest partner in PNU with 25 MPs.
Over in ODM, the decision by Mr Ruto’s supporters to push the
Eldoret North MP into the fray for the position has added a new
twist to the arrangement in the party. As the presidential running
mate, Sabatia MP Mudavadi was slated for the seat.
Aware of the entry of Mr Ruto, ODM legislators from Western
Province met on Monday at a hotel in Kileleshwa where they
resolved that Mr Mudavadi was entitled to the seat given his rank
in the party.
Said Nambale MP Chris Okemo: “We agreed on a number of things,
among them that Mr Mudavadi as the deputy captain must become the
deputy PM. There is no compromise on that issue.” The MPs, it is
understood, agreed on the number of ministerial seats, slots for
permanent secretaries and other key positions in parastatals that
However, Rift Valley MPs who requested anonymity because of the
sensitivity of the matter, said the scenario has since changed and
Mr Ruto deserves the seat. They argued that Mr Odinga was enjoying
the fruits of political leadership that was won by votes from the
Rift Valley and it was only fair that one of their sons be given a
top position. “This war was won by the Rift Valley and Mr Ruto has
done all it takes to be a deputy prime minister,” said one of the
They further argued that Western province has under its wraps a
powerful seat in National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende. “It is
only being fair to Rift Valley and the votes that Mr Ruto commands,”
the MP added.
Although it has been understood that Mr Odinga has assured Mr
Mudavadi that he will respect the party hierarchy, sources said
the matter is likely to be discussed by the ODM parliamentary
A similar battle, albeit at a lower level, is being fought by MPs
from PNU, ODM and ODM-K for the yet to be named expanded Cabinet.
Although matters appear to be easier for President Kibaki since he
already has 17 ministers, sources said he is now in a dilemma over
who to drop and who to pick.
At hand are the expectations of affiliate parties such as Safina
and Ford Kenya, women MPs and the youthful politicians. Safina
lawmakers held a meeting last Saturday where they declared that
they must get a slot in the Cabinet with names of MPs Lenny Kivuti
(Siakago) and Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurwe-ini) being mentioned.
Ford-K are expecting their chairman, Mr Musikari Kombo, who was
nominated to the House on a PNU ticket to be given a Cabinet slot
in the new government. Said Kimilili MP David Eseli Simiyu: “Our
party delivered many votes to the President in spite of the wave
of ODM in Western province and it is only logical that our
chairman gets a Cabinet seat. That is the least we expect.”
Youthful politicians Mwangi Kiunjuri, Danson Mungatana, Metito ole
Katoo, Aden Sugow and Cecily Mbarire are also expecting that one
of them will get a full ministerial position. Their argument is
that the half cabinet that was named by the President after the
elections excluded them yet their contribution to the PNU vote was
Agenda for youth
Said Mr Katoo: “We are really expecting the youth to be
represented in the expanded Cabinet. Since all the parties are
harmonising their manifestos which had a clear agenda for the
youth, we expect to be recognised.” The four MPs were assistant
ministers in the previous government.
Things are a little thicker in ODM as Mr Odinga prepares to
forward names of his nominees to President Kibaki for appointment.
MPs from eight regions have been holding caucuses to stake their
claim on the seats.
In the Rift Valley, those at the fore-front are MPs Ruto, Henry
Kosgey (Tinderet), Sally Kosgei (Aldai) and Charles Keter (Belgut).
While Mr Ruto deserves the seat for his role and status in the
region, Mr Kosgey is a senior politician who is also the ODM
Ms Kosgei, who is also a Nandi like Mr Kosgey, carries the hat of
women and national stature to stake claim.
Mr Keter, the only MP to successfully defend his seat in the
larger Kericho, represents the bigger Kipsigis community. He
embodies youth, political experience and professionalism that ODM
stated in its rallying mantra of real change.
On the fringes are veteran MPs Kipkalya Kones (Bomet) , Franklin
Bett (Buret) and new comers Margaret Kamar (Eldoret East) and
Lorna Laboso (Sotik). However, a delicate balancing act must be
performed act among the sub-ethnic groups in the community. It is
likely that the region will get five slots.
But their Nyanza counterparts argue that Rift Valley province
should not be given five slots because they are already
represented in government. Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojode said that it is
Nyanza—in fact Luo Nyanza—that deserves at least six ministerial
“Nyanza deserves about six seats in order to get fair
representation in the new coalition government. For instance, if
Rift Valley has to get five slots, they will add to those they
have in Ministers John Munyes, Poghisio, Asman Kamama, Noah Wekesa
and George Saitoti. Kisii has (Sam) Ongeri. It is only Luo Nyanza
that was completely left out of Kibaki’s government,” he said.
Those being lined up for ministerial positions are Mr Ojode,
Anyang Nyong’o, Omingo Magara, Dalmas Otieno and Chris Obure.
In the neighbouring Western Province, they have identified Mr
Mudavadi, Mr Okemo—because of their seniority and past experience
in politics— and Butere MP Wycliffe Oparanya for ministerial
positions. Others who may be considered are Webuye’s Alfred Sambu
and Funyula’s Paul Otuoma.
From Coast Province, those who are likely to fly ministerial flags
are Mvita MP Najib Balala—a member of the ODM Pentagon— and
Mwatate’s Calist Mwatela. In Eastern, Narc chairperson Charity
Ngilu is slated for a post as is Nominated MP Joseph Nyagah while
Nairobi has on its list Mr Odinga and Westlands MP Fred Gumo.
In North Eastern Province, former district commissioner Aden Duale
who is now the Dujis MP stands high chances.