The vetting of Cabinet Secretary nominees should bring out the best in our 12th Parliament. As the institution charged with separating the wheat from the chaff, a lot is expected from parliamentarians. In having MPs approve the nominees to the Cabinet, the framers of the Constitution sought to cure a past problem where the President used the Cabinet to reward his chums and political associates.
In the current constitutional dispensation, nominees to Cabinet must meet the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution on integrity for it is important that aspirants to public office must meet a certain threshold for acceptance.
But given the current political posturing between the ruling Jubilee party and the opposition National Super Alliance, it is probable that party loyalty will carry the day as Parliament begins vetting Cabinet Secretaries this week.
Oposition legislators have indicated they will not participate in the vetting exercise. So it is highly unlikely that Jubilee legislators would choose to go against the grain.
The recent case of renegade MPs who ignored party rules and clinched parliamentary committee chairmanship positions only to be stripped of the same days later speak of a party leadership that brooks no challenge and will go to any lengths to have its way, popular opinion notwithstanding. We hasten to caution that a thorough job doesn't necessarily need to lead to witch-hunt as is often the case with public jobs.
The 11th Parliament will go down in history as one that was eager to do the bidding for the Executive. While a lot is expected of the current Jubilee majority Parliament, what we have seen so far inspires little hope. Jubilee has not shied away from proclaiming it does not need NASA legislators to transact business in the House. But, rather than accede to the demands of the Executive, which to a large extent are inimical to the doctrine of separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution, the 12th Parliament owes it to the country to endorse only the best of the nominees.
The success of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Big four’ agenda will largely depend on the competence, ability and the drive of his Cabinet Secretaries.
Selective vetting defeats the noble intent behind the exercise. In 2015, Mr Kenyatta had to sack five Cabinet Secretaries linked with corruption dating from before his government. Such an embarrassment can be avoided with thorough vetting in Parliament.