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Yatani: Cabinet Secretaries are free to advance political interests

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani has defended Cabinet colleagues who have come under fierce criticism for picking sides in the 2022 succession debate saying Cabinet Secretaries have a constitutional right to engage in politics for the country’s development.

Yatani who spoke during a meeting between Mount Kenya Foundation and Northern Kenya leaders under the UPYA movement, a regional political caucus he leads, insisted it was well within the law for Cabinet Secretaries to politic.

“There is no problem at all for Cabinet Secretaries engaging in politics. It’s their constitutional right,” the CS said.

Yatani’s remarks mirror similar sentiments expressed by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya who on Tuesday said he will not shy away or be intimated when it comes to engaging in matters politics.

“We who were politicians before we become Cabinet Secretaries. We will not accept intimidation from anyone, we know the law. We have rights to engage in politics and to give opinion on direction of politics like any other politician,” Munya stated.

The former Meru Governor who lost his re-election bid to Kiraitu Murungi, a single-term Senator  (2013 -2017) and Minister of Constitutional Affairs under President Mwai Kibaki, said the involvement of Cabinet Secretaries in politics doesn’t not in anyway interfere with their mandate and policy implementation.

“We will continue serving the Jubilee government by implementing policies. We know that politics goes hand in hand with development,” he said.

The sentiments came against the backdrop of a heated debate over the extent to which ministers should politick ahead of the 2022 general elections.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) wrote a protest letter to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying that state officers should stay away from activities that may compromise the political neutrality of the offices they hold.

The William Ruto-led party also sought clarity on the inclusion of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru in the 2022 poll planning teams.

CSs Fred Matiang’i (Internal Security), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence) and Joe Mucheru (Information and Communication), are among Cabinet members who have declared support for ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential bid/CFM

The two are members of a multiagency team planning for a free, fair, transparent and credible general election in the President Uhuru Kenyatta succession race.

UDA questioned the impartiality of the two ministers given that they have already declared their support for Raila Odinga’s candidature in the 2022 polls.

The DP’s party asked the electoral commission to stop the CSs from interfering in the poll preparations saying it was wrong  for IEBC to allow such influence.

The poll body has since responded urging Cabinet Secretaries to keep off politics as it might have a ripple effect on the neutrality of their offices.

At least 11 Cabinet Secretaries have declared their political stances including Fred Matiangi (Interior), Mucheru, Munya, Ukur Yatani (Treasury), Eugene Wamalwa (Defence ), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Keriako Tobiko (Environment), Sicily Kariuki (Water), John Munyes (Petroleum) and Raphael Tuju (No portfolio).

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