We invoke the national interest to wade once again into the small, but critical matter of integrity. And we used up quite some space quoting verbatim the Preamble to the Judicial Service Code of Conduct and Ethics, based on Section 5 (1) of the Public Officer Ethics Act No. 4 of 2003 in the new Constitution.
It enumerates what is expected of judicial service officers in official and private capacity in order to maintain the dignity and integrity of the office. In fact the bar of integrity was set so high and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission envisaged as the custodian. First among equals, as it were, for not even that commission was granted absolute powers.
That, however, proved a pipe dream and had a very short shelf life. No sooner had the words “radical surgery” been uttered than the Lords of Impunity sharpened their claws, burnt the midnight oil, put several lawyers on a tight leash and on Speed-Dial as they anticipated the scalpel of the then Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. But the commission was fought and challenged every inch of the way!
Boxed from every imaginable corner, the commission limped away from the choppy seas as a furious corruption fought back. Those who were on its board must be sitting in retirement somewhere wondering whether it was all worth sticking out their necks for flag and country.
If the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), Transparency International-Kenya, Fida-Kenya and Community Aid International are to be believed, the Tenth Parliament easily fits the cloak of Enemy of the People of Kenya.
That the MPs have systematically emasculated the Executive to the point it appears a lame duck on virtually every pronouncement, appointment or debate, is not in doubt. Indeed, the presidency, come April 2013, shall be a hollow shell that will feature a figurehead without much “real power” as we have known it.
The MPs stand accused of undermining the Constitution promulgated in 2010 by having clobbered the teeth to bite officers intent on exercising impunity, fleecing the public purse or otherwise dragging an entire nation 20 years back into a dark past that is best forgotten.
The Leadership and Integrity Bill that encompasses the Public Officer Ethics and Integrity Act that is meant to ensure the triumph of meritocracy and best practice has been shredded to allow legroom for mediocrity, incompetence and malpractice.
Amendments scurried through the most recent Miscellaneous Bill are undoubtedly meant to shield unqualified members find their way back to public office or carpet the way for a soft landing in 2013. The three non-governmental organisations and CIC have demanded that Parliament reinstate deleted clauses originally proposed by the CIC so that legislation is watertight and is a level playing field for all-comers.
“By deleting these provisions, Cabinet lowered standards of leadership contrary to public expectations and in contravention of the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” their statement opines.
The CIC has threatened to seek a constitutional interpretation of what was intended, while Transparency International-Kenya, Fida-Kenya and Community Aid International urge Kenyans to resist any attempt to undermine the Constitution. If anything, that is a noble call to civil disobedience or “People Power” since even a cursory reading of Chapter Six is clearly a statement of intent to ensure selection and election of leaders based on personal integrity, competence and suitability. What is to stop the legislators from taking the fight to Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure they clip its teeth since the taxpayer shall no longer shoulder their excesses and runaway conspicuous consumption?