President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, are facing resistance from a coterie of senior civil servants opposed to their new way of doing things in government, a State House official has told this newspaper.
Mr Eric Ng’eno, the President’s speech writer, has repeated claims he made in an opinion article published in the Daily Nation on Thursday.
In the hard-hitting piece, he accused an unnamed cabal of running a “parallel state” that ignores orders. It was an unusual and risky criticism by a government official, which triggered debate on social media.
And yesterday, Mr Ng’eno repeated the same allegations in an interview with the Sunday Nation. He suggested that the President will soon purge the civil service of the rebels.
“I do not have the specific measures in mind, but I know that the engine of government will be humming and running nicely at a good clip in a very short time,” he said.
Mr Ng’eno, who is a lawyer, says that the group he is referring to has perfected the art of fomenting crises or creating avenues for graft and said that Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were committed “to constitutional implementation, Vision 2030 and the Jubilee manifesto, as well as their stated commitment to eradicate corruption and wastage of public resources.”
Mr Ng’eno, whose official title is Director of Speech-writing and Messaging under the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit, told the Sunday Nation that the same network of civil servants was notorious for dragging its feet on government agenda and working at the behest of big contractors, some of whom were opposed to the Jubilee presidential ticket.
He echoed the statement issued by President Kenyatta last month when he launched the Huduma Centres which are meant to raise efficiency and increase speed in processing of government documents.
Back then, The President said that there were civil servants who were dragging their feet in implementing the Jubilee agenda since, he said, they thought the government would be here only for a short time.
“You will go home before we do,” President Kenyatta warned.
His speech writer has gone a notch higher and said that the highest resistance emanates from the Office of the President and the network stretches downwards to civil servants in lower ranks.
“Aside from the Regional Commissioners, the civil service is a nest crawling with former DCs and DOs in positions of considerable influence.
“I am told that many ministries’ chief administrative and finance officers and former DCs are on the beck and call of their old system. Any person or group of persons having control of this network is a powerful force in government,” said Mr Ng’eno.
“To sweeten the arrangement, they do not have to worry about political or other accountability for their actions — the formally designated constitutional office holders will deal with that,” he said.
It is out of character for government officials holding such sensitive positions to publish revealing articles without approval. The same would apply to granting interviews on matters that seniors would consider sensitive. In such situations reactions or retributions follow swiftly.
State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu described Mr Ng’eno’s commentary as a “personal opinion.”
Mr Ng’eno further claims that the officials have frustrated devolution and done everything possible to elevate county commissioners above governors.
“First is the push to elevate regional and county commissioners to a position nearly equivalent to the governors. Second is the unnecessary confusion over resourcing and manning of devolved units. Devolution was always going to be a challenging exercise, but some of the bottlenecks were administrative. People foment crises to make themselves indispensable,” he said.
Mr Ng’eno, however, declined to name those he was referring to.
He also denied there was a split between the TNA and URP wings of the Jubilee Coalition.