Early Mornings, Punishment For Late-Comers: Inside President Ruto’s Tough Cabinet Retreat In Nanyuki

Written by on 9 January 2023

  • President Ruto is said to have started each day’s sessions very on time, where upon his arrival on Thursday, he went straight into the meeting that was being led by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.
  • All the meetings throughout the three days went up to 9 PM.

President William Ruto’s three-day retreat with members of his Cabinet last week was not for the faint-hearted and those behind time.The meeting held at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club from Thursday through Saturday brought together Cabinet and principal secretaries, as well as a team of advisors in the Kenya Kwanza government.

Delegates who have come out to recount the event have described how a punctual Dr. Ruto steered the rigorous affair as the Kenya Kwanza government lays the groundwork for its five-year term.

President Ruto is said to have begun each day’s sessions on time, and upon his arrival on Thursday, he went straight into the meeting led by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

He was accompanied by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Interior Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki.

All meetings ran until 9 p.m. over the course of three days.

“Each one of us must work beyond their county or village. Appreciate Kenya. Each CS or PS must appreciate the entire country as it is. You are a CS or PS of the whole country,” the Head of State is quoted as saying. 

“We have a contract with the people of Kenya. They signed off a contract with me. I share that contract with you. That letter of appointment you have has responsibilities and they are sacred and solemn,” 

“My request, CSs and PSs, we must protect the interests and resources of Kenyans who pay taxes. Before you sign off anything, your position must be guided by the interests of Kenyans, some who don’t have a tie or shoes. Those people have hired us. We must protect their interests and carry their aspirations,” 

On Friday, some unsuspecting PSs were caught off-guard after arriving after the Head of State, who was at the meeting room at around 7:50 AM.

Under Ruto’s new way of conducting government meetings, the trio found themselves denied entry into the session, and had to wait for the tea break to join the day’s second session that was open to the media.

It is during this open session that a terse President Ruto read the riot act to his Cabinet, ordering them to clear their desks daily and cut bureaucracy in government operations.

“The President is very serious. We didn’t expect he would work this way. We are now forced to work at his pace, and it’s not easy. We have to adjust to his style,” a CS told Citizen Digital.

“It is not necessary to write a letter if a call is sufficient. No need to call if an SMS is sufficient,” the Head of State is quoted as saying. 

“I make it necessary to clear my desk every day. We must be efficient. Don’t hold the government hostage by keeping files,”

“Files on your desk are not ornamental.” You must clear your desk every day. Any pile up must tell you there is a problem with your working style,” 

After the open session which brought together governors and MPs, some CSs and PSs thought the retreat’s serious matters had been dealt with and they left for Nairobi.

Little did they know the Head of State had given assignments requiring all ministries to list priority projects, timelines, and how they were to fund them.

The ministry officials were required to discuss this on Saturday morning, and then the president would join them for a plenary session in the afternoon.

According to a source, those who had already left for Nairobi were given two options; go back to Nanyuki or leave their jobs altogether.

The CSs and PSs complied and returned.

For Saturday’s program, the first sitting started at 7 a.m., when everyone is said to have arrived on time.

“CSs and PSs were on a helter-skelter as they struggled to get into the meeting tent. Some were forced to leave their breakfast at the dining room to catch up with the president who was walking to the tent,” the source said.

Saturday also comprised a combination of cluster group discussions and a plenary session, where ministries were required to identify their priority projects for 2023, their implementation timelines, and their costs.

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