Uhuru Kenyatta's progressivism, while admirably constitutional, is a millstone that will create embarassing problems for his bid to retain his presidency, whenever the next general election takes place. The Constitution demands that a third of all public appointments be of the opposite gender, which in Kenya means women. Uhuru Kenyatta's Cabinet has Amina Mohammed in charge of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Raychelle Omamo in charge of Defence, Anne Waiguru in charge of Devolution and Planning, Judy Wakhungu in charge of Environment, Water and Natural resources, Charity Ngilu in charge of Land, Housing and Urban Development, and Phyllis Kandie in charge of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism.
These six women define President Kenyatta's strict compliance with the letter of the Constitution; the spirit leaves a bitter taste in many mouths. Mrs Ngilu has proven that it is not the mandarins in her ministry who are at fault; she has managed to rub mandarins in all her former portfolios the wrong way since the hey days of the NARC government. He battles with the chairperson of the National Land Commission are going to make the task of removing the corruptingly dead hand of the ministry from the administration of land in Kenya or the resolution of decades of land injustices. Other than appearing on TV in the company of others more erudite (or prepared), the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources is presiding over the largest extermination of elephants and rhinos for almost a decade. Why she is still warming her ministerial seat remains a mystery.
Her counterpart in the East African Affairs ministry is sitting pretty while Kenyan legislator on the East African Assembly is joining hands with an unknown cabal to get rid of that Assembly's speaker. Integration seems to have hit a snag as Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda sideline Tanzania, though it is in anti-terror strategy that Kenya needs Tanzania more than it needs Uganda or Rwanda and if Kenya does not get Tanzania on-side over violence at the Coast, Kenya can kiss its grand plans for railways and pipelines goodbye. Why this Cabinet Secretary is still warming her seat on the Cabinet is also a mystery.
But is is the Defence Cabinet Secretary who truly shocks the mind. In an interview on TV this past Sunday, she appeared not to know what the job a the Cabinet Secretary is in relation to defence matters. She seems to have become a captive of the status quo despite being an intelligent and ambitious woman. Perhaps it was her interviewer's fault for being uninformed about defence matters, but Raychelle Omamo is a lawyer, a former chairman of the Law Society and a former ambassador of Kenya to France. She could have taken the initiative and informed and educated Kenyans about the state of the defence sector, what our strategic defence posture is for the next five years or even ten years, who our strategic concerns should be and what we are doing to address these concerns. she should not have gotten away with explaining Kenya's mission in Somalia as "not a holiday." Why she is still basking in the afterglow of the botched Westgate remains, too, a mystery.
Kenya is not short of talented women with the, forgive the pun, balls to run large and complex government departments. The Foreign Affairs and devolution Cabinet Secretaries have surely demonstrated this to be true. Why is the President finding it difficult to admit that in his Cabinet he has millstones that might sink his presidency. It is time he thanked the likes of Joseph Ole Lenku, Judy Wakhungu, Joseph Kaimenyi, and Phyllis Kandie for their services and replaced them with men and women who know their shit. (If he wants to, he can make sure that the replacements are all women on that they should be women with skills on toast.)