President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto’s announcement yesterday evening of the first four cabinet positions in their new government, both in the ‘style’ and manner in which it was delivered and with regards to the nominations themselves, was a ‘surprise’ perhaps, ‘different’ certainly and possibly rather clever, cunning even.
DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
Emerging from State House to address awaiting journalists seated on the lawn, the two men dressed in white shirts, red ties but sporting no jackets, were relaxed and smiling. It was neat, staged yes but new and undoubtedly stylish.
“We want to try and do things differently and we want to make it open”, the President told the media representatives. The latter were expecting the announcement of 18 nominees to the new cabinet; they got four for the time being.
“YOUR TURN WILLIAM”
Kenyatta fielded questions from the journalists (that was new) then turned to Ruto: “William, hata wewe kuja” (“William, it’s your turn”). First name terms, relaxed, disarming. So disarmed and relaxed were the journalists that not one of them thought to ask about recent events in Garissa.
Question time over, “Karibuni chai” said President Kenyatta and gestured towards the catering area: disarmed again.
FOUR CABINET SECRETARY NOMINEES
The four Cabinet Secretary nominees announced were: Mr Henry Rotich to the National Treasury; Mr James Macharia to Health; Dr Fred Matiang’i to Information, Communication and Technology; and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Mrs Amina Mohamed*.
Mrs Amina Mohamed – Kenya’s first woman Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Kenya Forum may be reading too much into that last appointment but think for a moment: clever, or what?
Mrs Amina Mohamed was the Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At one time she was the Permanent Secretary at the Justice ministry and she was recently in the running to succeed Pascal Lamy as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
So Mrs Mohamed has the credentials to be Kenya’s first woman Minister of Foreign Affairs (the fact that she will be, if approved by parliament, the first woman to hold this top portfolio went strangely unremarked in the media). Mrs Mohamed is a smart, clever woman. She is also an Kenyan-Somali*.
THE ‘INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’ AND THE ICC
So think about it some more.
It is not many days since some sections of the ‘international community’ were more than hinting at the dire consequences of electing Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The ICC at The Hague still awaits the two of them. And now President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto can send out into the world a UN approved, environmentally friendly, WTO Director-General-level, clever, smart Kenyan-Somali woman to represent Kenya – and themselves.
International community disarmed? ICC in retreat? Fatou Bensouda on the back foot? Clever, cunning even, or what?
*P.S. Many thanks and apologies to Kenya Forum readers for spotting the earlier errors in this posting, hopefully now corrected.