The Nakuru County Assembly has defied a court order barring the members (MCAs) from vetting persons nominated by Governor Susan Kihika as Chief Officers (COs).
A senior officer at the county assembly told The Standard that the order was issued after the Speaker had already directed the committee on appointments to handle the matter.
"We have not received any court order to stop the vetting of the chief officer. We have only seen the information on social media," said the official who did not wish to be named.
Vetting of the nominees by the various departmental house committees kicked off yesterday as scheduled, with members of the public being denied access to the precincts of the assembly.
Behind the closed gates, the ward representatives revealed that the vetting was going on as scheduled, terming the court orders as an attempt to deny Nakuru residents of government services.
“Vetting of COs is on. No one will be allowed inside the assembly to ensure the process continues uninterrupted. This is the job we were elected to do,” said an MCA who sought anonymity.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court had on November 11 issued orders stopping the ward reps from vetting the nominees until a case filed by a resident is heard and determined.
Governor Kihika, Attorney General, the County speaker, and the county public service board had been listed as respondents in the petition filed by one Stephen Michael Oduor Ogutu last week.
The same court had on October 18 issued similar orders stopping the county assembly from receiving names and vetting 10 nominees as County Executive Committee Members (CECMs).
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MCAs, however, took issue with petitioners with some of them saying that Nakuru residents were not interested in the court cases but wanted seamless service delivery by the new administration.
“A few people with selfish interests have gone to court to challenge the formation of the new government. When shall the government work for its people?” said Bahati MCA Grace Mwathi.
Mwathi said that there would never be perfect individuals or a list of nominees that would satisfy everyone in the county hence their decision to proceed with the vetting.
“Enough is enough. MCAs must be given space to vet the nominees. Nobody is perfect. If a nominee shall not deliver we shall take action but that is a bridge we shall cross then,” said Mwathi.
Kihingo MCA Simon Kamau said that it was time for the Assembly and its powers to be respected since the mandate of vetting county nominees lies with them.
“COs are the accounting officers in a county government. Without them, no development and service can be rendered. With this kind of case, we are left to wonder where are the powers of an Assembly?” posed Kamau.
Kamau explained that on such matters, the county assembly has powers equivalent to that of a High Court.
“The courts are lacking respect for the County Assembly by interfering with the responsibilities assigned to them in law. The names have already been brought to the Assembly and we shall continue with the vetting. The petitions can come later,” he said.
Subukia MCA Isabella Makori said that the petitioners had no interests of the public at heart and that Nakuru County would only lag behind other counties whose administrations have taken shape.
“The residents are interested in seeing a change in their county. It is the users of government services who are suffering from this. The petitioners should withdraw the cases immediately,” said Makori.
Stanley Karanja of Naivasha East and a former majority leader said that vetting of the COs was necessary to ensure continued service delivery pending the conclusion of the case against CECMs.
“The cases are an attempt to frustrate Kihika and divert her attention. There is a hand behind this mess. There was to be a supplementary budget but we don’t have COs and CECMs to bring it,” said Karanja.
Karanja said that the court should withdraw such orders and allow the assembly to continue with the vetting process while the case proceeds in parallel.
According to a schedule released by the clerk of the county assembly, ten of the 21 CO nominees were to be vetted on Monday. The rest are to be vetted at staggered times between Tuesday and Thursday this week.