Matiang'i downplays new role of Cabinet prefect - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 3 March 2019

Matiang'i downplays new role of Cabinet prefect

 Fred Matiang'i
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Six weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed him to head a Cabinet committee on service delivery, Dr Fred Matiang’i has come out to reassure his colleagues that the position does not make him a prefect over them.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, the same day that saw Mr Kenyatta sack Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, the Interior Cabinet Secretary clarified his new role was not meant to undermine any of his colleagues.
“This is certainly a useful mechanism to clarify, not to confuse; to coordinate, not to undermine. My new role was created to help, not to hinder; more importantly, to promote inter-ministerial coordination.
"Among the inter-ministerial matters, the coordination is required for removing difficulties, removing differences, overcoming delays, coordination in administrative action and coordination of policies,” he said.
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His explanation comes in the wake of simmering tension in the Cabinet with ministers allied to the Deputy President William Ruto sulking over his elevation, which they believe was meant to undermine the second in command ahead of the 2022 elections.
He also sought to downplay ‘super minister tag’, a strategic move that is perhaps meant to reduce the tension with colleagues.
“At Cabinet level we do not have shallow insecurities because we know each one of us is uniquely qualified to do what the others can. As you saw from the President’s communique, this committee is not a one man show but rather a committee constituting almost the whole wing of the Executive,” he said.
The reality though is that his colleagues see him as being ‘first among equals’.
The Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) headed by Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita has been mandated with collecting information on all projects and feeding the information to the committee weekly.
A number of Cabinet ministers who got their seats courtesy of Dr Ruto are keen on supporting his presidential ambition with hope they will be guaranteed plum positions, again, if he wins once President Kenyatta retires.
When Dr Matiang’í was appointed, there was open defiance among his colleagues in what almost paralysed operations of the committee.
Dr Ruto even hosted his trusted allies at his Harambee Annex offices for hours to dissect the import of the development in the larger operations of government as well as what it meant for his State House bid.
The thinking in Dr Ruto’s camp is that naturally and by virtue of being the President’s principal assistant, he should have chaired the committee.
The resistance invited Mr Kenyatta’s intervention. He is said to have asked those not willing to toe the new order to quit.
“During today's Cabinet meeting I reminded our Cabinet secretaries that there are many young Kenyans who are willing and ready to work if they felt they are not up to task. Those who've chosen to keep politicking instead of serving the people should be ready to give way,” Mr Kenyatta told wananchi in Kitengela on his way to Tanzania.
Dr Matiang’i said all was well in the Cabinet. “Our working relationship has tremendously improved if the 100 percent attendance of our weekly meetings is anything to go by,” he said.
And added: “If there are any imaginary divisions, then they are a creation of the media and those who seek to politicise everything. For us, we shall focus on delivering services to Kenyans.”
Dr Matiang’i said while each ministry is responsible for acting on its own for expeditious implementation of government policies, plans and programmes, where inter-ministerial cooperation is involved they often seek the assistance of the newly formed coordination structures.
“The rest of my colleagues understand this fact very well, they welcome the new committee and we are happy to work as a team.”
Even with expanded mandate, Dr Matiang'i said the Ministry of Interior remains his major focus.
“It is where I report on a daily basis and even with additional assignments, I understand I have to deliver on my primary ministry.”
He spoke a few days after reports emerged that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had opened files on at least three ministers in connection with claims of receiving kickbacks from contractors presiding over mega government projects.
Construction of at least four dams is the subject of heated political debate that has seen DP Ruto come out to deny claims that some Sh21 billion meant for the construction has been squandered.
Fred Matiang'i

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