NAIROBI, May 9 – A crucial two-day bonding meeting for the Grand Coalition Government (GCG) opened Friday with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga urging Cabinet Ministers and other senior government officials to speak with one voice.
The historic forum at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi brings together the Vice-President, Kalonzo Musyoka, the Prime Minister and his two deputies, Cabinet ministers, Assistant ministers and Permanent Secretaries.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, President Kibaki urged the team to observe the principle of accommodation as they discharged their duties.
He also appealed to GCG to work as team and respect each other.
President Kibaki called on all top government officials to work in harmony and avoid bickering to ensure the country recoup losses following the post-election violence.
"Continued infighting between leaders will slow the process of undertaking much needed reforms in the country," he emphasized.
"Let us use this event to begin the process of bonding and team building in preparation for the delivery of superior services to the people of Kenya."
His sentiments were backed by Odinga who said government officials should put the interests of Kenyans first before those of their respective parties.
"We have one President and he is not a PNU President nor is the Prime Minster an ODM PM, we are leaders of the republic of Kenya," Odinga said.
The Prime Minister asked members of the government to avoid looking at each other as opponents and instead work as one team.
"We are one government, serving one people. The performance of this government is going to be judged by your collective performance," he said.
He called on Cabinet Ministers to observe collective responsibility and defend each other.
Raila said: "We should not at any time contradict each other in public as this will send the wrong signals," he emphasized.
The President also said the success of the government will largely depended on their performance in Parliament.
In this regard he told Ministers and their assistants that they would be required to attend Parliament regularly to move legislation on behalf of government, to answer question and contribute to the enactment of sound laws and policies.
“Let your Parliament attendance surpass that of the previous government’s, that is the only way we shall achieve what we have set out to achieve,” the President advised.
Addressing Permanent Secretaries he said they should ensure their top priority would be provision of superior public services.
As accounting officers he said they must maintain high standards of integrity and accountability in the use of public resources.
He also told all present to familiarize themselves with the provision of the Public Officers Ethics Act and Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
The meeting is also doubling up as an induction seminar for the GCG officers.
The forum would be closed Saturday afternoon by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.