Kenya's new Cabinet

The dispute over the division of ministerial portfolios in Kenya’s new coalition Cabinet was resolved this week when President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga each made slight concessions in the face of gathering frustration in the country and a renewed threat of violence.

At the centre of the dispute in the formation of the coalition government were 10 high-profile and influential ministerial posts: home affairs, internal security, provincial administration, local government, education, foreign affairs, water development and irrigation, roads, transport and communication. Other key posts are the ministries of agriculture, higher education, and science and learning.

The new Cabinet is composed of 40 ministers and the posts are divided equally between Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

The Mail & Guardian profiles some of the key ministers.

Vice-President and Minister for Home Affairs

Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka

Had the disputed 2007 elections produced a clear winner, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka would probably not have been picked to be the country’s 10th vice-president and minister for home affairs. Musyoka ran for president on the ticket of the rival Orange Democratic Movement-Party of Kenya (ODM-K) against Kibaki and Odinga, but was ultimately fielded by Kibaki for the post.

A lawyer by profession, Musyoka (56) made his debut in politics in the 1983 snap election, which he lost. But he won a by-election two years later.

In 1986 Musyoka was appointed assistant minister for public works, housing and physical planning. He was elected deputy speaker of the national assembly in 1988. Re-elected in 1992, Kalonzo was appointed foreign affairs minister by then president Daniel arap Moi.

Kalonzo’s national profile was significantly enhanced in 2002 when he defied Moi and joined the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which teamed up with 12 other parties to defeat Uhuru Kenyatta, Moi’s hand-picked successor, in the 2002 elections.

Deputy Prime Minister

Musalia Mudavadi

The appointment of Musalia Mudavadi as Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister has firmly resurrected a political career that was wavering prior to last year’s December general election.

Mudavadi’s political fortunes started to decline when he returned to the ruling party as vice-­president after temporarily leaving the Moi government. His three-month stint as vice-president was the shortest in Kenya’s history. His decision to return to the Moi camp precipitated his downfall in the 2002 general election in which Moi was defeated by Kibaki.

He completed his political “rebranding” during the 2005 referendum, when he rallied the Western Province to vote against the government-sponsored constitution. In last year’s polls he was Odinga’s running mate. Born in 1960 in Western Province, Mudavadi was first elected to Parliament in 1989. He was immediately named minister for commerce and marketing. He also served as minister for transport and communication.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta is the alternate deputy prime minister in Kenya’s coalition Cabinet.

Although he is the son of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, he was averse to politics until Moi plucked him from obscurity and installed him as branch chairperson of the then ruling Kenya Africa National Union (Kanu) in 1997.

In the same year he vied for and lost the election for the parliamentary seat once held by his father. But he still made it to Parliament through presidential nomination and was appointed minister of local government.

Kenyatta ran against Kibaki in the 2002 elections and lost. He switched camps in the countdown to the December 27 polls and backed Kibaki.

His elevation to deputy prime minister and minister for trade is widely seen as a strategy to prepare him for a shot at the presidency in 2012.

The 47-year-old has vast business interests in real estate in Kenya and the United Kingdom, as well as transport, insurance, dairy, coffee, tea and sisal industries.

Foreign Minister

Moses Masika Wetangula

Moses Wetangula, Kenya’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, served as an assistant minister in the same ministry from 2003 to last year.

He represented the Kibaki government in the peace talks chaired by former United Nations’s secretary general Kofi Annan. Born in 1956 in Western Province, Wetangula has been an MP since 1993.

A lawyer by training, he has been involved in several landmark cases in Kenya, including the treason trails that followed an unsuccessful coup attempt in 1982 and the lengthy commission of inquiry into the controversial death of Dr Robert Ouko, the late foreign affairs minister.

He was nominated as a Kanu MP after the 1992 general election and served until 1997.

Water Development and Irrigation Minister

Charity Kaluki Ngilu

The Minister for Water Development and Irrigation, Charity Ngilu, symbolises Kenyan women’s struggle for liberation.

She was first appointed to the Cabinet in 2003 by Kibaki, with whom she had forged an alliance in 2002 in a bid to wrest power from former ruling party Kanu. She chaired the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) that swept Kanu out of power.

Ngilu ran for president in 1997 and came fifth in the race. Born in 1952, Ngilu was minister for health from 2003 until May last year when she was sacked after she criticised Kibaki. While in government she often appeared to be flip-flopping, unable to decide whether she was for the Kibaki government.

Her profile includes a stint at the Central Bank of Kenya as a secretary before she ventured into business. She was the director of a plastics extrusion factory in which her late husband had an interest. Ngilu backed Odinga in last year’s poll.

Minister for Defence

Mohammed Yusuf Haji

Yusuf first entered Parliament in 1998 as a nominated MP after retiring from provincial administration. He was elected to Parliament in 2002 and last year on a Kanu ticket.

He represents a constituency of livestock herders, who have complained since independence that they are being treated as second-class citizens.

Provincial Administration and Internal Security Minister

George Saitoti

George Saitoti served for 12 years as vice-president in Moi’s government before ditching him for the opposition. Prior to being appointed minister for provincial administration and internal security, this former University of Nairobi mathematics professor was minister for education in the first Kibaki administration. He has been an MP since 1983.

His long political career was nearly cut short when he was implicated in one of Kenya’s biggest financial scandals, the $1-billion Goldenberg affair, which was executed during his watch as finance minister between 1983 and 1992.

Minister for Agriculture

William Ruto

When he reported to office on Tuesday, a day after he was appointed Minister for Agriculture, William Ruto made it clear that service delivery was at the top of his agenda.

Such gusto has given the fiery MP from Eldoret North in Kenya’s agricultural-rich Rift Valley Province a reputation as a potential future president of the country.

Ruto, who retained his seat in last December’s elections, plunged into politics in 1992 as a chief campaigner for former president Moi.

He chaired Youth for Kanu ‘92, an amorphous campaigning outfit awash with slush funds, which successfully campaigned for Moi.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1997. When he threatened to quit Moi’s party, he was instead appointed home affairs minister. Ruto’s own bid for the presidency hit a wall when Odinga won the opposition candidacy on the ODM ticket. As a then senior secretary of Kanu, he teamed up with Odinga to campaign against the Kibaki government’s constitution in the 2005 referendum. Ever since the two have worked together closely.

He holds a BSc degree from the University of Nairobi. He is a large-scale maize, wheat and diary farmer. He also has interests in real estate and is the proprietor of the daily the Kenya Times.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology

Sally Kosgei

Sally Kosgei is a first-time MP from Aldai in the Rift Valley Province and is a member of the ODM.

From 2001 until she left the civil service when Kibaki took power in 2003, she was the most powerful civil servant under the president. As the head of the public service, she was both loathed and loved for her proximity to the presidency.

Kosgei has held various other prominent positions in the government, serving as permanent secretary for foreign affairs and as Kenya’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom.

The 58-year-old former diplomat was plucked from her job at the University of Nairobi, where she was an associate professor of history and international relations.

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