, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – Once described by Kenya’s longest surviving newspaper of national standing, the Standard, as ‘the only man in Uhuru’s cabinet,’ it came as a surprise when President Kenyatta last week failed to name her as one of the six Cabinet Secretaries – from his first term – that he would be retaining.
Those retained are Charles Keter (Energy), Fred Matiangi (Interior and Education), Henry Rotich (National Treasury), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Najib Balala (Tourism) and James Macharia (Transport)—with President Kenyatta expected to unveil the rest of his cabinet soon.
But considering the accolades Amina has earned at the Foreign Minstry, many are yet to understand why she was omitted in the team to drive President Kenyatta’s agenda in his second and final term.
Former Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji who worked with her in his role as the Chair of the Defence and Foreign Relations committee in the eleventh Parliament, marvels at how she worked to change the narrative from ‘there will be consequences to an Uhuru, Ruto presidency’ to elevating Kenya and President Kenyatta’s standing on the international stage.
Work he views as defining of her career as Cabinet Secretary. “She did a lot of work in changing perceptions of the world and is largely responsible for elevating Kenya’s profile globally and that of the President.”
Country Director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa Felix Odhiambo, who worked with her in her capacity as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, may not agree with some of the positions she took on the International Criminal Court (ICC) on her elevation to a CS but, “overall,” he says, “she’s done well. Nobody is perfect.”
On her nomination as the Foreign Affairs CS back in April of 2013, Owuor viewed her as not only competent but hard working and diligent to boot.
In the nature of a scholar, History and Foreign Relations Professor Macharia Munene classifies Mohamed as a “B rated person,” but is quick to make clear that a “B is a very good grade,” and that “she’s done very well.”
What he would like to see moving forward, is more Kenyan representation in the echelons of international policy organs.
Mohamed’s own loss in the 2017 race for African Union Commission Chair, he says, may have cut her but disagrees that it was a reflection of her capabilities.
He and fellow don, Professor Maria Nzomo – who took over from Mohamed in a previous diplomatic posting in Geneva – are also on the same page where her handling East African Community Affairs is concerned, “including the most recent saga on cows and chicken in neighbouring Tanzania,” with Nzomo describing her as a” natural charmer”; a trait she considers critical to the job.
She is however, careful to include the caveat that “people in the ministry may have a different story all together” but from an outsider’s perspective, her assessment is that she’s “performed very well,” observing her to be “extremely sober and level-headed.”
If nothing else, Nzomo appreciates that she’s blazed the trail for women at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs being the first female at the helm. “It’s a challenging post for anyone and not well understood by many; you have two constituencies to answer to: the domestic and external.”
Unlike Nzomo, Ambassador Kalimi Mworia had occasion to work closely with Mohamed on whose diplomatic experience she drew from on her posting to the Netherlands.
“It was my first time as ambassador and I could always call on her. She’s a very serious worker and well informed; somebody of high integrity. I may be 70-years-old her senior but I look up to her.”
Her favourable rating of Mohamed’s performance as Cabinet Secretary at “90 per cent and above” is therefore hardly surprising.
Other adjectives used to describe Mohamed apart from hard-working, by Gethenji, include “professional” and “respectful.”
Still, it seems not have been enough to earn her that golden ticket as the Minister of Foreign Affairs or perhaps it’s the perfect note on which to transition – by choice.
Nevertheless, from the outside looking in, as Nzomo premised, there is no denying that it’s in her time at the Foreign Affairs bridge that a pair of politically incorrect pariahs metamorphosed into the darlings of the international community.