Court suspends vetting of Governor Susan Kihika's 10 cabinet nominees

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A court has stopped the vetting of county ministers nominated by Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika.

The decision by the Employment and Labour Relations Court follows an application by a local doctor who accused the governor of violating the law when coming up with the list of nominees released on October 13.

Dr Benjamin Magare, a Nakuru-based consultant trauma and general surgeon, said the list of members of the County Executive Committee (CECs) does not reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the county contrary to the County Government Act and the constitution of Kenya.

And on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, Justice Hellen Wasilwa stopped the vetting of the ten nominees until the case is heard and determined.

Kihika has nominated Dr Nelson Tanui (Water and Environment), Dr Samuel Mwangi (Health), Stephen Muiruri (Trade, Culture and Tourism), John Karanja (Land and Physical Planning), Leonard Kipkoech (Agriculture), Roselyn Wanjiru (Public Service Management), Josephine Atieno (Sports, Gender Culture and Social Services), Zipporah Wambui (Education, Youth and ICT), Stephen Njogu ( Finance and Economic Planning) and Michael Kamau (Infrastructure) as the people who will help her implement her manifesto.

Magare’s petition notes that Kihika and the county advertised for the positions on September 30. On October 13, he said, Ms Kihika announced that she had received 478 applicants from which to select and proposed 10 names to take up the positions.

The doctor however said list does not reflect ethnic and cultural diversity in the county. “The appointments should be declared illegal, null and void and quashed by the court.”

One of his contentions is that the list has seven nominees from one community, two from another and only one from a third community, leaving out 40 other communities.

Magare termed the exercise skewed where two communities have taken up 90 per cent of the posts. "This is ethnic marginalization and unfair labour practices contrary to the constitution," he said.

The petitioner said the nomination process was not fair, open, competitive, merit-based or inclusive. It was also not based on integrity, competence and suitability. The exercise also failed to consider ethnic balances as required under the law, the petition said further.

He claimed Kihika's action has led to the loss of public confidence in her administration. "This is an outright abuse of political power to the detriment of many communities in the county," said Magare.

The petitioner added: “The court should maintain constitutionalism, rule of law, law and order, good governance, non-discrimination and protection of the constitution.”

Justice Wasilwa said: “Pending the hearing and determination of an application challenging the appointments, an interim order is hereby issued suspending any other document that notifies of the nomination for appointment of the 10 as CECs.”

She also barred county officials from proceeding with the appointment process until the petition is determined.

“A conservatory order is issued barring the vetting and processing of nomination for appointment or appointment of the nominees as CECs, pending hearing and determination of the petition,” she ruled.

She directed the orders to be served to the governor, the county government, the county assembly and the nominees, pending the inter-parties hearing slated for October 31. 

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