Vetting of the 51 Principal Secretaries nominated by President William Ruto begins today despite two petitions filed in court challenging the process.
Questions have been raised about the eligibility of some PS nominees, while the president has been accused of failing to observe gender balance and leaving out people living with disability in the final list.
The nominees, who include technocrats, election losers and PSs who served in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, will appear for vetting before respective National Assembly Departmental Committees in a week-long exercise.
Dr Magare Gikenyi, a surgeon, has filed a petition before the Employment and Labour Relations Court, seeking to stop Parliament from vetting the 51 PS nominees. He argued that the list does not meet the two-thirds gender rule.
Dr Gikenyi said the nominees consist of two to three ethnic communities and female nominees are less than a third and that the list does not reflect ethnic, cultural and regional diversity contrary to Articles 10, 73, 75 and 232 of the Constitution.
“If the 51 Principal Secretaries nominated by the president are cleared by Parliament their appointment will be an affront to the Constitution and injure majority of Kenyans, I seek to have this court declare their appointment illegal, null and void,” Dr Gikenyi told the court.
He has also challenged the nomination of Bernice Silaal as Principal Administrative Secretary in the National Police Service(NPS), terming the position nonexistent in law and a duplication of the roles of Principal Secretary for Interior.
Fredrick Bikeri, through an urgent petition filed at the High Court, sought to stop the National Assembly from vetting and approving the PS nominees on grounds that the list falls short of the gender rule and regional balance.
“The list of persons appointed to the rank of Principal Secretary is illegal and unconstitutional since it does not reflect the face of Kenya, has no gender balance, regional balance, tribal balance and inclusivity of the marginalised communities contrary to the provisions of the Constitution,” said Mr Bikeri, an activist.
Advocate Danstan Omari representing Bikeri said President Ruto breached the Constitution by nominating his cronies while excluding other regions who also deserve to be part of government.
Mr Omari argued that since the country has 44 tribes, the president should have nominated at least one PS from each tribe to reflect regional balance since they will be making policy decisions.
“Just like during vetting of Cabinet Secretaries, the National Assembly acted like a conveyor belt for approving all the nominees despite integrity questions raised about some of them, the same thing will happen with the Principal Secretaries unless the court stops the process,” he said.
At least 13 MPs from the Gusii region, led by North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko, raised concern over the failure by the president to appoint a PS from Kisii and Nyamira counties, saying that this was the first time it was happening since independence.
“While we thank the president for appointing Ezekiel Machogu as the Education Cabinet Secretary and for the nomination of Gloria Orwoba and Esther Okenyuri as senators we feel that our community got a slap on the face after missing out in the PS slots,” said Mr Nyamoko.
Julius Korir who has been nominated as Cabinet Affairs Principal Secretary will be the first to appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Affairs at 9am today.
Raymond Omollo (Ministry of Interior and National Administration) will appear before the same committee at 11.30am followed by former Kenya High Commissioner to Pakistan Julius Bito (Citizen Services) at 2.30pm and Aurelia Rono (State Department for Parliamentary Affairs) at 5pm.
Dr Chris Kiptoo (National Treasury) will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Finance and Planning at 9am today. He served as PS in the Ministry of Environment in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.
James Muhati (Planning) will be the second to appear before the committee at 11.30am. He previously served as Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Head of ICT.
Kello Harsama (Crops Development) will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Agriculture at 9am today. He served as Agriculture and Food Authority Director General before resigning to vie for Marsabit governorship.
Harry Kimutai, who has been retained as Livestock Development Principal Secretary, will be appearing before the same committee at 11.30am.
Peter Tum who has been serving as Labour PS will appear before the Departmental Committee on Health today at 2.30 pm for vetting after he was moved to Medical Services.
Dr Josephine Mburu (Health Standards and Professional Management) will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Health at 5pm.
On Tuesday, former Laikipia West MP Patrick Mariro (Defence) will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations at 9am.
Dr Korir Sing’oei who has been serving as a Legal Advisor to President Ruto will appear before the same committee at 11.30 am for vetting as Foreign Affairs PS.
Roseline Njogu (Diaspora Affairs) will appear before the committee at 2.30 pm followed by Abdi Dubart (East African Community Affairs) at 5pm.
Alfred K’Ombundo, who served in Ruto’s Economic Advisory team and has been nominated as PS for Trade, will be the first to appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives at 9am.
Abubakar Hassan (Investment Promotion) will be the second to appear before the committee at 11.30am.
Juma Mukhwana who has been nominated as PS for Industry will appear before the committee at 2.30 pm.
Patrick Kilemi who was a General Trade territory manager at Total Kenya Limited and has been nominated as PS for Cooperatives will the last to appear before the committee at 5pm.
Esther Ngero (Performance and Delivery Management) will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Affairs on Tuesday at 9am.
Betsy Njagi (Blue Economy and Fisheries) will appear before the Departmental Committee on Blue Economy and Irrigation at 11.30am.
Gitonga Mugambi (Irrigation) will appear before the committee at 2.30pm.
Dr Paul Ronoh (Water and Sanitation) will appear before the committee at 5pm.
On Wednesday it will be the turn of Shadrack Mwadime (Secretary for Shipping and Maritime Affairs) to appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Blue Economy and Irrigation for vetting at 9am.
Dr Belio, Kipsang who is making a comeback as Principal Secretary for Basic Education, will appear before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Education at 11.30 am.