A showdown looms in the National Assembly over the vetting of Cabinet nominees ahead of the reconstitution of the House Business Committee (HBC).
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula directed that the nominees be gazette on Friday, October 7, meaning the vetting will start next week.
“The Committee on Appointments once formed immediately commences the process of consideration of the nominees to enable speedy conclusion of the vetting process. This should be done on Friday following which the Committee on Appointments should commence approval hearings,” said the speaker.
Mr Wetang’ula further directed that the report on Cabinet nominees vetting be tabled on or before October 27 so that Parliament can debate and ultimately approve or reject some or all the names.
According to the timeline provided by the speaker, the National Assembly has a deadline of November 3 to approve the names of the CSs.
And with Kenya Kwanza declared the Majority in the House and in respect to the composition of the committee, majority and minority leaders are to submit four members each to the office of the speaker by Tuesday next week.
The names of the members of the Committee on Appointments are also expected to be presented to the House Business Committee on Tuesday when it has its first sitting
The Standard has established that Azimio and Kenya Kwanza camps have already picked the names of departmental committee members.
Kenya Kwanza has fronted Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro as chair of Budget Appropriation Committee, Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) to chair Transport and Infrastructure Committee, Kimani Kuria (Molo) to head Finance Committee and Nelson Koech (Belgut) to be in charge of Defence and Foreign Affairs committee.
Others are Julius Meli (Tinderet) who will spearhead Education Committee, Robert Pukose (Endebes) will chair the Health committee while Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki will chair Water committee.
Some MPs have opposed some of President William Ruto’s Cabinet nominees.
Ruto unveiled 22 Cabinet nominees that he hopes will help him implement the Kenya Kwanza agenda.
The Committee on Appointments will hold its first sitting and direct the Clerk of the National Assembly Serah Kioko to publish the names in national newspapers, inviting Kenyans to submit to Parliament in writing any objections they may have on the suitability of the nominees.
The vetting will take almost a month after lawmakers of the 12th Parliament changed the law on the vetting days of Cabinet secretaries from the initial 14 to 28 days. The Committee of Appointments will conduct public vetting before retreating to write its report.
The committee is chaired by the speaker and comprises of majority and minority leaders among other members.
The team will grill the Cabinet nominees to establish if they meet Chapter Six of the Constitution on integrity.
The committee will table the report in the National Assembly for MPs to either adopt or reject. If adopted, President Ruto will formally appoint the individuals as Cabinet Secretaries and the elected MPs will have to officially resign to take up their new roles in government.
It’s at the tabling of the report that MPs who may not be part of the committee indicate that they will not approve individuals who lack integrity.
However, Azimio MPs have vowed to ensure tough vetting of the nominees with focus on integrity.
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, who is also the ODM Secretary General, said Azimo lawmakers have raised integrity concerns over some Cabinet nominees.
“There are names on that list that are suitable and competent for any position in government. But there are other individuals who are not suitable for Cabinet and I am hoping that MPs will stay true to the oath of office to defend the Constitution,” he said
Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino said the president should not have nominated individuals with court cases.
“Its oxymoron to ask our young people to get good conduct from the police and for the people who are being appointed to high positions we are expected to just let go. Our position is very clear, if you have cases in court you cannot hold State office,” he said.
Former Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa who has been nominated to the Public Service and Gender docket has pending court cases on murder and graft.
She is facing murder charges over the killing of 48-year-old Ngumbao Jola on October 15, 2019, after chaos broke out during the Ganda ward by-election in Kilifi.
In the second charge, Jumwa is accused of embezzling Sh19 million meant for the Malindi Constituency Development Fund. Alongside six other people, she is charged with 13 offences, including forgery and fraud for allegedly siphoning money meant for the construction of a sub-county education office block.
Another CS nominee with an active court case is former Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, who is set to succeed outgoing Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
The former Meru senator is accused of falsifying information, obtaining credit by false pretences, impersonation and abuse of office alongside one Emily Nkirote with whom they are shareholders at Atticon limited.
Treasury CS nominee Prof Njuguna Ndung’u faces questions over his tenure as the Central Bank of Kenya Governor.
In 2012, MPs implicated Prof Ndung’u in the loss of more than Sh2 billion following the cancellation of a money printing contract awarded to De la rue currency.
The former CBK Governor faced tough challenge dealing with the scandal surrounding the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.
In June 2016, former Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria alongside the infamous ‘Pangani Six’ were placed behind bars at the Pangani Police Station for six days over incitement.
In January 2020, he was arrested again and taken to Kilimani Police Station to record a statement over an alleged assault of a woman. In April last year, Kuria was arrested, for flouting Covid-19 rules and spent a night in Karuri Police Station.
Controversy also surrounds Energy CS nominee Davis Chirchir, who has been President Ruto’s Chief of Staff.
Chirchir makes a comeback to a docket he unceremoniously left in 2015 following allegations of corruption. He was cleared of Kenya Pipeline corruption charges by EACC which was investigating allegations that a company by the name Windward trading Limited was formed to receive Sh90 million from award of contracts between the Kenya Power Company and foreign companies.
These issues are likely to resurface during vetting by Parliament.
But the nominees are banking on the Kenya Kwanza grip of Parliament to sail through the vetting after which they will take the oath of office and embark on their new roles.