ODM leader Raila Odinga is poised to lead the country’s economic recovery in new changes expected to be unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Star has established.
Uhuru is crafting a new Cabinet lineup that could see several Opposition figures get plum jobs as the President moves to shove aside DP William Ruto as he races to secure his legacy.
Sources privy to the planned changes said Raila could be handed a huge portfolio that would see him coordinate several ministries dealing directly with the economy through a new agency to be established in the Executive under the Office of the President.
Treasury, Agriculture, Tourism, Industrialisation and Devolution are some of the dockets that the former Prime Minister would be entrusted with to coordinate.
The outfit to be headed by Raila will be called the Multi-Agency Economic Recovery Team. It will be directly answerable to the President.
The agency could also bring together eminent political leaders.
Multiple interviews with Raila’s close allies indicate that it is just a matter of time before his role is made public.
Uhuru has been reaching out to key Opposition leaders to craft a government of national unity as his relationship with Ruto nosedives.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi are among those expected to get a share of the government in the new changes.
Amani National Congress party boss Musalia Mudavadi, has wanted a different formation.
According to multiple sources, Mudavadi would prefer a purely technocratic team of economic experts similar to President Kibaki’s economic recovery team.
He also would like the team divorced from succession politics.
In the proposed arrangement, Raila will head the Economic Commission or Council that will superintend the country’s post-coronavirus economic recovery.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the country, with the economy on its knees without hope of growth this year.
The new council will have a multi-sectoral approach, working together with a number of state departments relevant to economic recovery, including the National Treasury.
“There will be an economic commission to help reconstruct the economy. Raila will play a senior role. That team will reconstruct the economy working with a number of ministries,” said a source aware of the happenings.
Raila is said to have told his close confidants during a meeting of the ODM National Management Committee last Thursday that he would be taking a senior role in Kenya’s economic recovery.
The new role would see the former PM chair crucial sub-committee meetings charged with the recovery of the economy, in what politicians say would chip away some roles enjoyed by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.
Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’i during an Eid baraza in Mombasa County.
Matiang’i chairs the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee and weekly Cabinet meetings on behalf of the President.
The Star has established that Raila’s new office will not be in competition with Matiang’i’s powerful portfolio but will instead deal expressly with fixing the corona-ravaged economy.
The changes are expected to be made soon. Already, office space is being worked on at the National Treasury.
The allies who could not be named given the sensitivity of the matter also ruled out the possibility of the ODM leader joining the government either as a Cabinet Secretary or Chief Cabinet Secretary.
“The only thing I am aware of is that we are going to play a role in the recovery of the economy. Any arrangement [of ODM joining the administration] will come after the BBI. For now, there is no joining government,” added another Raila ally who requested not to be named.
Raila’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango could neither confirm nor deny the reports but referred the Star to government agencies.
Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe was the first to hint that Uhuru, who has fallen out with DP Ruto, was working on bringing on board key politicians.
“This country needs a government of national unity post-coronavirus. To bring people together so all can focus on rebuilding the country,” Murathe said on April 13 after a meeting at Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli’s home in Kajiado.
On Labour Day, Uhuru confirmed that soon he will constitute a team that will steer the country to economic recovery after the coronavirus has subsided or been defeated.
“Very soon, I plan to invite all leaders of different political parties, workers’ unions, employers and other stakeholders, we all sit down and chart the way forward on how to revive the economy post-Covid-19,” he said at State House, Nairobi.
On Sunday, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who is also the Baringo senator, hosted some leaders from Rift Valley and sources have told the Star that he briefed them on the upcoming changes, including possible names he will forward for appointment to government positions.
Already, Uhuru has had a meeting with former Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto and it is understood that while Rutto declined to be appointed Chief Administrative Secretary, he endorsed the formation of MAERT where he plans to play a key role. Rutto is the Chama Cha Mashinani leader.