Deputy President William Ruto’s office appears to have lost some clout after key functions which previously fell under his docket were transferred to State House.
The Efficiency Monitoring Unit, the State Corporations Oversight office bringing together the State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC) and the Inspectorate of State Corporations and the Oceanic Management Office are among institutions which have been moved to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Nzioka Waita, based at State House.
Eyebrows have been raised over the shift of responsibilities in the new arrangement that appears to move power specifically from Harambee House Annex, Mr Ruto’s office, to State House.
The DP had inherited some of the departments from the office of the Prime Minister including oversight over the ambitious Lamu port Lapsset project.
Eyebrows have also been raised over the failure to put in a replacement for the position of chief of staff previously held by Ms Maryanne Kitany.
Although the DP partly succeeded in acquiring financial autonomy when State House allocated a special vote to cater for his office, the authority to incur expenditure still remains with the State House comptroller. The situation has been made worse by failure to get a substantive chief of staff.
The Principal Administrative Secretary Daniel Waisiko Wambura is the most senior administrator in the DP’s office but receives authority to incur expenditure only after approval from State House. Mr Ruto also retains a private secretary, Mr Maiyo.
Asked about the changes and the shifting of functions the President’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu said: “This reorganisation by the President is meant to increase efficiency and nothing more.”
Mr Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi told the Sunday Nation that the operations of the DP’s office and the President’s are coordinated under the Presidency.
“There is really nothing unusual in this thing. All these offices under the Presidency are answerable both to the President and his Deputy,”Mr Mugonyi said.
He added that operations have not changed since they came to government with State House funding the DP’s office activities.
He insisted that crucial departments are still housed at Harambee House Annex adding that the President’s communication team and that of the Deputy President operate mostly from the same facility.
Kuresoi South MP Zachayo Cheruiyot, a retired career civil servant, said the new system could have been underpinned by the desire by the President to ensure corruption is dealt with directly by his office.
“When you look at the President’s concerns, it could be that he is worried over the pace of implementation of flagship projects like the Standard Gauge Railway and others. I am also thinking the President may have been concerned about runaway corruption emanating from the projects and wanted direct control and rapid response,” said Mr Cheruiyot without elaborating.
But when the Sunday Nation visited the DP’s office website such functions as the Lapsset, Oceanic Management Unit and Inspectorate Corporation are indicated to be under the Government Coordination Unit in Mr Ruto’s office.
The profile of Ms Kitany, who is under suspension, is still intact in the website as the Chief of Staff, a previously powerful office now lying unoccupied.
Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen described our inquiries as an attempt to rock the boat by individuals suffering from the grand coalition hangovers.
“Mr Waita is answerable to both the DP and the President. All those offices you are talking about including ministers are answerable to both. We are not in the half a loaf government,” he said.
He explained that Ms Kitany is on suspension and that is why her office remains vacant awaiting the final decision in the cases brought against her.
Mr Murkomen explained that the Presidency in Kenya is designed in the format of that of the United States.
He said: “You can’t see (US vice- president) Joe Biden undertaking autonomous functions. He deputises for the President. In Kenya we have one centre of power.”
Interestingly, the office of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has a Chief of Staff, Ms Connie Gakonyo.