BY KIRATU KAMUNYA
The new cabinet list as unveiled by his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta has generated huge excitement among Kenyans. Owing to the great expectations that Kenyans have from our new Jubilee government, this is quite understandable and very much in order.
It is commendable that the President settled on a lean cabinet portfolio of eighteen Ministers as a measure of austerity and to realize efficiency.
The composition of previous cabinets told a story of duplicity in performance of various duties, inefficiency, ethnic considerations and ballooning sizes. As a result, although much progress has been made with the delicate act of balancing between the various competing dynamics, much more could have been realized.
In his hunt for ‘these much more’, President Kenyatta seems to have got his act right.
Other than sticking to his campaign promise of a lean government, the President has gone a step further and revealed a list of ladies and gentlemen with extensive managerial and technical expertise to implement the Jubilee Agenda for the next 5 years.
To cap it all, the team by Kenyatta largely speaks of youthful and ambitious men and women with proven track records in their area of specialty.
What they represent and what the President hopes will be transmitted to their respective areas of authority are the manifest qualities of governance. It is these qualities that are always espoused by the most successful chief executive officers and managers around the world. In the area of governance, the cabinet secretaries will need to exhibit critical characteristics of good governance.
To begin with, they will have to encourage a culture of transparency. This means that decisions taken and their enforcement should be done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement.
They must also be responsive by ensuring that the processes they initiate try to serve all stake holders within a reasonable time frame. It is important for the cabinet secretaries to achieve consensus in decision making and implementation of the government agenda. It means there will have to be mediation of the different interests within the various merged and harmonized ministries.
Good governance is also about equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, participation and upholding the rule of law.
Hon John Michuki the late Environment and previously Transport Minister was effective as a minister because he was able to demonstrate hands on approach to leadership in the various dockets which fell under his authority.
That is what defined his immense success. To him, technical expertise in these areas was a distant consideration.
In fact, Hon. Michuki was neither an environmentalist nor a transport manager.
It is clear that what turned around the respective ministries was sound decision making and firm implementation.
The same can be said of the current Deputy President Hon William Ruto when he was at the Agricultural Ministry and later at the Higher Education docket.
His overwhelming success was imported from his charisma and effective leadership which saw him rally the people around him behind his vision and philosophy a fete they repeated successfully together with the president during the jubilee campaigns.
The long and short of my argument is that it takes much more than technical expertise for a minister to deliver in his area of influence. It is thus fallacious to argue that cabinet secretaries who do not possess technical skills in their ministries will perform below par.
Therefore, clamour by doctors that James Macharia is unfit to be the cabinet secretary in charge of health just because he is a banker and not a doctor is baseless.
After all, the President and his Deputy will be expected to respond to the various national concerns and grievances across a wide range of issues. Does it mean therefore we must have a president who possesses technical knowhow in almost every field?
Some of the successful football coaches in the world have never set foot on the football pitch as professional players.
They include Jose Mourinho of the triumphant Real Madrid football club of Spain. His club is successful because he possesses talent managerial skills.
Others like Arsene Wenger of Arsenal who is largely successful is an economist by training! All we need is a gentleman or woman who is alive to pertinent national concerns and challenges and is responsive by generating a vision to map out desired solutions and required changes by the people.
Ministers are supposed to be managers who should show leadership by effectively administrating resources both human and material in order to meet outlined goals and objectives.
We should also cede some space to the new appointees to prove themselves as they have already from their different backgrounds. It is the wise thing to do!
Writer is a lawyer with Maina Ngaruiya Advocates