In Summary
  • Mr Kenyatta is increasingly displaying anger in public, often telling off those he feels do not support his agenda well enough and threatening to sack them.
  • With just three years to the end of his presidency, the universal healthcare is still at piloting stage covering just four counties out of the 47.

Slightly more than a year into his second and final term in office, President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to be betraying a hint of impatience on the goings-on in his administration as he races against time to secure his legacy.

On Thursday, the President once again publicly ridiculed his Cabinet secretaries (CSs) and those who had started early campaigns for the 2022 elections.

State House insiders, who spoke to the Sunday Nation in confidence, said the President is increasingly frustrated by the slow progress of projects with less than four years to the end of his term — but was determined to take on those he thought were responsible instead and was not ready to be portrayed as a lame-duck.

Apart from the slow pace of the Big Four agenda projects and his warnings on 2022 campaigns, the President is also said to be feeling that the war on corruption is losing steam with fingers pointed at the Judiciary.

EMPTY THREATS

Since late last year, the Head of State is increasingly displaying anger in public, often telling off those he feels do not support his agenda well enough and threatening to sack them.

His critics have however often pointed out his harsh words are rarely matched by action.

Nonetheless, such anger was again on display on Thursday when he addressed a crowd in Kitengela town on his way to Arusha, Tanzania, for the East African Community Heads of State Summit.

During his speech, he even uttered some words in his native Gikuyu language to what was largely a cosmopolitan audience as he harshly cautioned the CSs to resign if they are not comfortable with his leadership.

"During today's Cabinet meeting, I reminded our CSs that there are many young Kenyans who are willing and ready to work if they felt they are not up to the task,” the President, who was accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, said,

POLITICS

He warned those choosing to politick rather than focusing on development.

A State House source explained that it was the President’s “robust stand” that had prompted his deputy to issue a statement disassociating himself with the 2022 campaigns.

Others like Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa are said to have earlier been warned to go slow on politics and concentrate on their dockets.

“You are going to see more of this. The President will not sit back and watch people sabotage his second-term agenda,” the source said.

The President’s attack on his Cabinet on Thursday was not new.

On a number of occasions last year he was forced to publicly rebuke Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri over the scandal in the maize purchase programme at the National Cereals and Produce Board where nearly Sh7 billion was lost through unscrupulous individuals.

BIG FOUR

But economist and policy analyst David Ndii attributed the Presidents’ recent outbursts to a personality trait, a sluggish economy and the 2022 succession dilemma.

“The President is feeling more of a lame-duck than he thought he would be,” said Dr Ndii, who was in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s think-tank in the 2017 presidential campaigns. “It’s inevitable in politics, but perhaps he wasn’t prepared for it.”

Dr Ndii notes that unlike his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, who was prepared to retire, President Kenyatta is trying to manage his exit “and the tantrums seem to suggest it is not working that well.”

“He is shouting at his ministers who are not toeing the line and this is linked to the fact that the "lame-duck phase" set in early,” he says.

He adds: “He seems to have an imperial, even monarchical mien in his life complete with palace corps who kowtow to him. This is not concomitant with the rough and tumble of politics.”

After being sworn-in for a second term in November 2017, the President unveiled four key agenda he will concentrate on and which he hopes he will be remembered for long after he leaves the House on the Hill: the provision of affordable housing, provision of universal healthcare, development of the manufacturing sector and, finally, ensuring food security for all.

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