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MPs plot to oust parastatal chiefs holding party posts

BUSINESS
By | September 19th 2010

MPs plot to oust parastatal chiefs holding party posts

By Gakuu Mathenge

As MPs threaten to force Cabinet ministers to comply with the new Constitution and resign from their political party positions, attention turns to parastatal chiefs who also double up as political party officials.

The Parliamentary Reform Caucus has threatened to make it difficult for the Executive in Parliament if ministers and parastatal bosses do not resign from their public offices or political parties.

As the House resumes on September 28, it is expected this will be among the key agendas on the MPs’ table.

"The previous constitution was disobeyed with impunity. This time round, the new Constitution should be respected and implemented to the letter and spirit of every comma and full stop," says Mr David Ngugi, a member of the caucus. In a statement read by Garsen MP, Danson Mungatana, last week, the MPs demanded that all public officers comply with Article 77 that deals with leadership and integrity.

Article 77 underpins the principle of one-man-one-job that requires State officers to quit other jobs, or quit public service. "The new Constitution has reversed the policies introduced by the Ndegwa Commission (1966) that allowed civil servants to double up as merchants, politicians, and businessmen. Henceforth, they must choose what they want," Ngugi says.

Besides politicians, many parastatal chiefs and board members also double up as political party officials, trustees, branch and National Executive Committee officials and spend their time shuttling between their offices and political functions.

They include former Nominated MP, Julia Ojiambo, who is the chairperson of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service board and chairperson of the Labour Party of Kenya, Mr Jimmy Angwenyi, who is PNU vice chairman and Kenya Electricity Distribution Company director, Mr Philip Okundi, who is Communication Commission of Kenya chairman and chairman of ODM election board.

The newly appointed Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Chairman, Marsden Madoka, is reported to have resigned as Kanu vice chairman upon being appointed to the KRA board but Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat says he is yet to receive the resignation letter.

Critical areas

Other high profile parastatal officials who double up as party officials are Nyayo Tea Zone board Chairman, Paul Sang, who is also Bureti Kanu branch chairman, and Provident Fund Chairman, Josiah Magut, who is also Kanu NEC member representing the Rift Valley.

Says Salat: "Political parties should lead the way and declare those positions vacant and fill them, than having to wait until individual ministers and parastatal directors volunteer to resign. We expect Kanu Chairman, Uhuru Kenyatta, will convene a NEC meeting to decide how to replace the officials soonest."

Inquiries by The Standard on Sunday on why parastatal chiefs holding political offices had not been sacked indicated Head of Public Service, Francis Muthaura, is hamstrung by Grand Coalition politics.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Service said President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were the ultimate voices and decision makers in the appointment of parastatal boards, and civil servants just implemented decisions made by the two.

"Parastatal directors are usually political aides of politicians, and their appointments is part of the reward system for errands boys. How does Muthaura sack a party official who is always around the President and the PM? There has to be a Cabinet and policy decision on the matter," said the official who did not wish to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the Press on the matter.

Asked about possible breach of the Constitution by political parties and their officials, Registrar of Political Parties, Lucy Ndung’u, said her office is waiting for the establishment of the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution.

There has also been argument about whether Article 77 refers to elected or appointed public officers.

Kanu National Organising Secretary, Justin Muturi, who is a former principal magistrate, says it does not matter: "It is not about process of getting to public office but about the holder and occupant of public office," Muturi says.

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