Senate decision on Monda a reminder of law on conduct


Former Kisii County Deputy Governor Robert Monda during his impeachment hearing at the County Assembly Chambers. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

I bet the Senate decision to impeach Kisii Deputy Governor Robert Monda came as a surprise for many Kenyans. This is because Kenya is a country where public officials have gotten away with so much that the allegations against him sounded like child’s play.

This is a country where state and public officers have been accused of robbery, land grabbing, murder, and all kinds of misdemeanors yet have gone ahead to enjoy their full rights as they remained protected under the ambits of the law.

This is a country where state and public officials have hurled insults on podiums and on social media, and no one has pursued them successfully. Most of them have ended at summons and hearings that drag on for ages as the accused serve their terms and earn their salaries.

Monda has now become the first Deputy Governor to be impeached, not on account of any investigation by EACC, DCI, or NCIC but by the origins of a public petition.

The uniqueness of the Monda case is that the originator was an informed Kenyan who knew and chose to pursue the legal path and also given an ear all the way to the Senate.

The 2010 Constitution provides avenues through which many other public officials can be impeached or recalled for transgressing the law. For instance, under Section 104, an MP can be recalled. However, in the process of anchoring the provision in law, MPs set the threshold so high that it looks virtually impossible.

It is also possible to impeach a Cabinet Secretary, but according to Article 156, the petition should emanate from a Member of Parliament supported by a third of his fellow MPs.

The same can also apply to the President, but this time the petition must be supported by at least two-thirds majority. In all these cases, gross misconduct and gross violation can be used as the main reasons for impeachment proceedings.

All the expectations for how a public or state officer should conduct himself are well elaborated in Chapter Six of the Kenyan Constitution.

Among them are that a state officer must avoid any conflict between personal interests and official duties and must not compromise any public interest for personal interests.

More importantly, a state officer must not demean the office he holds and seek any personal benefit that compromises his integrity.

I don’t know how many public officials would remain in office if they were to be put on trial on the allegation of bribery, abuse of power, and gross violation of the constitution.

The Senate decision is a reminder that the provisions of the constitution are alive, and where there is sufficient goodwill, they can bite. However, it is only until the grounds on which Monda was impeached become the threshold for all state officers that we can conclude justice has been done.

 The writer is anchor Radio Maisha