Kenyans on Monday morning woke up to news of Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordering the immediate arrest of Treasury CS Henry Rotich, his PS Kamau Thugge and 19 other senior government officials.
Possible scenarios after Rotich & senior Treasury officials step aside
DPP said Rotich & his team would leave gov't immediately after being charged
Haji went further to state that all those mentioned would be required to step aside immediately after they are charged – most probably today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday).
The stepping aside of the top Treasury leadership is no ordinary happening and causes low investor confidence unless it is mitigated quickly.
Thus, it is likely that within the week, President Uhuru Kenyatta will appoint a Cabinet Secretary to oversee Treasury in an acting capacity.
The interim appointment will most likely be a serving Cabinet Secretary, given the lengthy period it would take to confirm a new appointee.
Further, the acting CS would need to be a person with technical expertise on matters economy policy and fiscal management.
Once Rotich steps aside, there will only be 3 Cabinet Secretaries with a background in Finance – Transport’s James Macharia, Adan Mohamed from the Ministry of East African Affairs, and Sicily Kariuki from Health.
It will not be lost to political observers that Rotich’s arrest has come a few days after one of his juniors, Justus Nyamunga, was caught up in the proxy wars between State House and the Deputy President’s office.
Nyamunga, who is a Treasury employee seconded at Ruto’s office, had authored a letter that questioned President Kenyatta’s order permitting withdrawal of cash from the government account for ministries without the law allocating counties budget money.
Kenyatta’s handlers disowned the letter and asked the DCI to probe the matter claiming it was a forgery.
Ruto has also been working with Rotich and Treasury officials to negotiate to resolve a revenue allocation stalemate – a process that appears not to have the blessings of the Kenyatta camp.
Cabinet appointments are not merely based on technical expertise but also political considerations and on this Ms Kariuki and Macharia would emerge as the leading favorites as they seem to be fiercely loyal to President Kenyatta.
Kariuki previously worked as a Director of the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) which is owned by the President’s family while Macharia served as CEO of NIC Bank – which has since merged with CBA.
The case against Rotich is likely to drag on for years and it is safe to say that unless a miracle happens – the besieged Treasury CS will most likely be dropped in the course of time.
Again, political and technical expertise considerations would dominate the appointment of the substantive Treasury CS.
On account of regional balance, the Treasury CS will most likely be picked from the Rift Valley – but he or she would need to be qualified and loyal to the Head of State.
On this, Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett emerges as the clear favorite to take over as Rotich’s successor.
Koimett is a close family friend of the Kenyattas – being the daughter of former powerful minister Nicholas Biwott.
She is also a veteran at Treasury where she has served in various capacities - rising to become Treasury PS.
Even after leaving Treasury, Koimett continues to represent the Government of Kenya at the board of Safaricom - even though such representation ordinarily comes from Treasury - a testament of the faith President Kenyatta has in her abilities.
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