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Worries of validity of headless commissions

By Protus Onyango and Cyrus Ombati | Published Fri, January 12th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 12th 2018 at 15:23 GMT +3
Former Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko

In summary

  • Lawyer says positions or offices that make executive decisions are the most affected by a lack of commissioners or heads
  • Five key offices unable to discharge duties effectively because they have no substantive heads

Experts are concerned that five constitutional commissions and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) cannot discharge their duties effectively because they do not have substantive heads.

The DPP's office is currently unable to prosecute treason suspects because this can only be done by the director.

Former DPP Tobiko Keriako resigned last Friday ahead of his nomination by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Cabinet. He is still awaiting vetting by Parliament.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has no chairperson or commissioners. Sarah Serem and her team exited when their non-renewable six-year term expired at the end of last year.

Kenyans may have a long wait before the next commission is constituted as Parliament, which is mandated to vet the nominees, is still on recess until February 13.

And the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), which deals with MPs and staff welfare, is yet to pick a nominee to the commission.

Just Thursday, PSC Secretary and Clerk of the Senate Jeremiah Nyegenye advertised the position in local dailies.

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Similar position

Mr Nyegenye also advertised a similar position on behalf of the Senate to represent the 47 county governments.

Lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, a former commissioner with the defunct Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), said commissions or offices that make executive decisions were the most affected by lack of commissioners or heads.

National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson Winfred Lichuma and the commissioners also left office when their term ended last year.

At the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, chairman Francis ole Kaparo and his team are also headed for home.

The Commission for Administrative Justice (CAJ) and Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) have acting chairpersons.

In January last year, Commission on Administrative Justice vice chairperson Regina Mwatha took over on New Year’s Day in an acting capacity pending the hiring of a substantive boss.

This followed Otiende Amollo’s early retirement as Ombudsman ahead of the end of his six-year term in November. Mr Amollo is now the MP for Rarieda.

In the same month, the President replaced the CRA team, including chairman Micah Cheserem.

He appointed Jane Kiringai as the chairperson of the Commission alongside eight other commissioners. 

Same problem

The remaining 10 commissions are facing the same problem as most of them were created after the 2010 constitution.

This means the terms of most commissioners are coming to an end after the mandatory six years.

Outgoing DPP Mr Tobiko said his exit would not leave a vacuum.

Secretary of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor will take charge in an acting capacity before Tobiko's successor is appointed, he said in Nairobi.

He was addressing senior staff from the DPP headquarters and all the 47 counties.

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