Constitutional implications of recent appointments

By Faith Ronoh

Controversy over the recent parastatal appointments by President Uhuru Kenyatta is still rearing its ugly head with those opposed moving to court to reverse the appointments.

A case in point is the recent court order restraining former Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu from taking office as the chairman of Athi Water Services Board.

Mr John Muriithi had filed an integrity case claiming that Waititu had grabbed his land. In response, the court stopped Waititu from assuming office.

Waititu contested the Nairobi gubernatorial seat on a TNA ticket but lost to ODM’s Evans Kidero last year’s polls.

In a similar incident, replaced chairman of the Kenya Medical Laboratories, Technicians and Technologists Board Abel Onyango has since filed a court petition seeking to reverse his dismissal.

He says the Cabinet Secretary concerned did not revoke his appointment nor issue him any notice. Onyango argues that as the only person living with a disability chairing the board of a parastatal, replacing him with a person who does not fall in that special interest group was another gross violation of the Constitution.

Onyango was replaced by Moi University lecturer Alex Chemtai.

Constitutional lawyers argue thats such cases were expected because the President failed to follow the provisions of the law in making the appointments.

“Most of the constitutional procedures were not followed.There was a bit of confusion on who should be the appointing authority while at the same time, previous office holders were revoked without notices which is against the law,” says Ben Sihanya, a constitutional lawyer.

Sihinya says apart from unprocedural appointments, issues of regional diversity, gender and youth were never met.

“The government is breaking the law deliberately because they seem to understand what is going on,” he adds.

Lawyer Donald Rabala, says Waititu has a pending criminal case in court and does not therefore qualify to hold public office.

“People who have criminal offenses pending in court must step aside until they are cleared. This is clearly provided for under Chapter 6 of the constitution on leadership and integrity ,” he argues.

He attributes the turn of events to “failure by the President to follow set rules as provided for in the constitution.”

Rabala says there is a likelihood that most appointments will be challenged in court. “The President should have recruited for the various positions competitively. The fact that regional and gender balance has not been reflected makes the whole situation more unconstitutional. Meanwhile,we should expect more people moving to court to challenge the appointments,” he says.

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