We are 'clean' since the cases were fabricated, says Linturi

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary nominee Mithika Linturi. [File, Standard] 

A day after he was freed from a sexual assault case, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary nominee Mithika Linturi has waded into the issue of integrity status of the ‘Hustler cabinet’.

The nominees are set to be vetted by Parliament where issues of integrity for each of them, will feature prominently.

And buoyed by remarks of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua a day ago, on what the opposition has termed “questionable” integrity of some nominees, Mr Linturi now says those with pending “malicious” court cases will be vindicated in coming days.

During an interview in Nyeri on Sunday, DP Gachagua claimed the cases facing Linturi and Public Service and Gender CS nominee Aisha Jumwa were “malicious” and “fabricated” simultaneously telling off rival Azimio MPs who had criticised their nominations.

Linturi was facing rape allegations but the case has since been dropped after an out-of-court agreement while Jumwa is still facing a murder charge and a Sh19 million graft case.

“…we will not deny anyone a chance to contribute to Kenya’s development because they have a fabricated case,” said Gachagua.

Agriculture CS designate Linturi now says some cases plaguing the nominees were politically instigated by the previous regime and he was optimistic that justice would prevail.

“I am optimistic that just the same way I was vindicated by the courts, those who suffered at the hands of the previous regime and punished with court cases, will get justice,” said Linturi.

He added: “It is well known by Kenyans that I was persecuted by the former administration, especially because of my political association with President William Ruto. The criminal justice system was used to intimidate us but we stood firm.”

He also welcomed the remarks by Gachagua, a move that has set the stage for a showdown between Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s camps over vetting of new Cabinet nominees in Parliament.

It will be interesting to see how Linturi and Jumwa, no strangers to controversy, will navigate the grilling by MPs who have in the past rejected some presidential nominees such as ambassador Monica Juma for Secretary to the Cabinet post in 2015 and Mwende Mwinzi as Kenya's ambassador to South Korea in 2019.

Last week, legislators allied to Azimio la Umoja coalition party, who are putting in place a shadow government to keep Ruto’s administration in check, promised grueling vetting of the CS nominees.

In a statement, the Azimio MPs termed the proposed Hustler Cabinet as “essentially a line-up of who is who in the dark world of theft of public resources.”

“…If this is the team that we must live with, then Kenyans must be prepared for tough economic and political times. The downward slide of the economy will continue,” said Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka also tore into the proposed Ruto Cabinet, noting that some nominees have active criminal cases and that he would whip his party members not to approve them.

"This was not procedurally done, on the basis of competencies and personal integrity and we shall direct our MPs to withhold approval of those who do not meet the Chapter Six threshold in our Constitution,” said Kalonzo.

Parliament officially opened its doors last week and held its inaugural sitting, paving way for the formation of House committees and the determination of who between Kenya Kwanza Alliance and the Azimio la Umoja coalition party are the majority.

According to the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act, the House Business committee will undertake approval hearings on the nominees and produce a report to the House recommending the approval or rejection of the nominees within the stipulated 28 days.