The constitution gives the president a maximum of 22 and a minimum of 14 cabinet members and this is quite a rationale size. However, what surrounds the ability to justify the rationality of the cabinet size?
Former president Kibaki had a cabinet of 44 members which was considered quite a chunk. Some ministries were split to create room for the coalition partners; the ODM side. This size of cabinet made government very redundant as ministers overlapped each other in duties while some simply lacked a clear operating niche. What resulted out of this kind of government were continuous squabbles, slow implementation of policies, reduced development rate and so much more towards the negative end.
With the incoming of a new president, he promised a leaner government that is focused on delivering the promises and pledges they made. Slightly over ten days after being sworn in, the president and his deputy have released their desired structure of government which is made up of 18 cabinet slots. What has been witnessed is mainly merging of most of the ministries in order to create a smooth operating platform.
An 18 member cabinet is quite small and one is left to ask whether all areas of concern will be governed smoothly. Some ministries have been changed in terms of names while others have been completely restructured, while a few have been newly formed so as to facilitate efficient delivery.
Most importantly, the president has ensured that issues that affect the country most are put under his office and the office of the deputy president which is actually a new step in ensuring that government serves the people in the best way possible.
Personally, I am pleased that the president and his deputy have considered the expenditure of running government. In his speech during the opening of the 11th parliament, he emphasized the need to cut down on expenditure by government and channel the funds towards development projects. He has indeed walked the talk by trimming the size of his management team and he is without a doubt going further to stamp the SRC’s decision to cut down the legislators’ salaries.
However, the most important aspect to consider when analyzing whether the new cabinet is tenable is the ability of the ministries to touch on all agendas laid down and whether merit will be considered. Well, the latter is yet to be known but the former is clearly visible.
The cabinet formations have been structured to ensure that all the agendas that the president laid down during his maiden speech in parliament and on his swearing in will be attended to. He has gone to the extent of forming a ministry of devolution that will allow the national government to interact at an official capacity with the county governments.
What is left is to wait and see if merit will be considered so as to inject professionalism in the government affairs. The president and his deputy will have to consider a number of things alongside merit and professionalism: ethnic diversity, gender equality, consideration of persons with disabilities and lastly, for political survival, their political friends who have helped them secure the right to govern this country.
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