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Leaders accuse MPs of malice in rejection of President Uhuru Kenyatta's nominee

Members of Parliament who shot down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominee for Secretary to the Cabinet came under scathing attack from within and outside the National Assembly, exposing deep divisions in the governing coalition and the Opposition.

Members of Parliament who shot down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominee for Secretary to the Cabinet came under scathing attack from within and outside the National Assembly, exposing deep divisions in the governing coalition and the Opposition.

Some state agencies, civil society and the public took sides on the decision by a parliamentary vetting committee to reject Dr Monica Juma’s nomination.

All this was happening yesterday as some MPs bragged about the feat, vowing not to endorse any presidential nominee until a Principal Secretary who was shown the door recently was given a job.

Consequently, Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) announced it will be moving to court “soon” to challenge the constitutionality of the resolution to reject Juma’s nomination.

There may be more trouble in store for MPs who appended their signatures to the resolution to reject Juma, who was nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to replace suspended Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia. Juma was Principal Secretary for Interior.

Should the court rule that reasons for her rejection were malicious, the MPs would be in violation of Chapters Six of the Constitution, which spells out abuse of office offences

Deputy President William Ruto told MPs to vet nominees based on their track record and not “flimsy” reasons. Ruto said MPs should rise above petty and political reasons while discharging their duties.

In an apparent reference to the rejection of Juma, the DP asked MPs to be fair to professionals.

“I want to ask Members of Parliament to vet individuals based on their track record and not other reasons,” he said in Vipingo, Kilifi County during a ceremony to celebrate two years of devolution, yesterday.

Ruto also said the Senate will be invited to participate in county budget discussions before they are presented to the National Assembly for approval. They will be involved in the Inter-Governmental Budget and Economic Council, which he chairs.

Reacting to debate in Parliament, the CIC chair Charles Nyachae said the near-unanimous vote amounted to abuse of office, which is inconsistent with Chapter Six of the Constitution. Mr Nyacahe said if the court finds that the legislators abused their powers, “they will be dealt with in accordance with the law, including being deemed unsuitable to hold public office.”

He announced the commission’s intention to move to court as women and Juma’s community defended her and accused the MPs of discrimination and lack of respect for women.
“The commission has seen a pattern where MPs make decisions based on personal vendetta and not based on the lawful considerations. This is a trend that must stop. As a commission we intend to seek legal action as may be necessary,” said the CIC chairperson.

Nyachae cited two occasions where the legislators have acted contrary to the intent and purpose of the Constitution, and particularly Chapter Six.

Nyachae’s assistant Elizabeth Muli observed: “They even gave personal accounts on the number of times they were denied services for their interests. Today no Kenyan needs an MP to get a service. They simply need to walk to Huduma Centre or any government office and they get help.” “No one protested the nomination. Why are they now purporting that they can even speak for the Kenyans who did not have any complaint? Interestingly they did not puncture her academic credentials and other capabilities. They shot her down because of her perceived ‘impoliteness’ and ‘rudeness’,” said Nyachae.

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka described the MPs decision as “blatantly driven by malice and selfish interests.”

Kalonzo said the report by the National Assembly Committee on Security and Administration was tailored to embarrass and portray Juma as incompetent “yet she is one of the most qualified in the Jubilee government to say the least.”

Kalonzo said that, as the president’s nominee, he did not demonstrate support for her, which gave TNA the audacity to reject her.

The Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (Fida Kenya) criticised Parliament for “frivolity”, saying the letter cited as the basis of her rejection had no proof of arrogance or condescension as alleged by members of the committee that vetted her.

“Juma’s nomination was informed by the distinction and success she has earned serving the nation as an Ambassador to Ethiopia and, Permanent Representative to the African Union, Defence PS, and in her current position as Interior PS,” read the statement.

Fida said Kenyan must be reminded that during her tenure in the various offices no complaint was ever raised against her performance and its surprising why she should be vindicated.

“Fida said the National Assembly should be reminded that they are not above the law and as key protectors of law must observe and adhere to the principles of the rule of law.
“As an organisation we have, and continue to make several appeals to public officials and Kenyans at large to apply fair hearing and trial processes especially of women who have exhibited high competency and have been competitively nominated and/or appointed to office,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, National and Equality Commission Chair Winfred Lichuma in a statement attributed Juma’s rejection by MPs to “overbearing patriarchy laced with a huge dose of malice.”

Ms Lichuma said that while the Commission respected the independence of Parliament and appreciates the fact that it has no role in vetting of nominees to public offices, it found the reasons advanced to reject Juma extremely discomforting.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Public Service Commission chair Margaret Kobia.

Speaking during the launch of the Commonwealth Businesswomen Academy at All Saints Cathedral yesterday, Prof Kobia said that it was sad to see that such a competent and strong woman had been denied the opportunity to serve the public, hence derailing the many gains and efforts that have been put in place to ensure that women across the country take up leadership positions.

“Her rejection is more of a gender issue. If it was a man, he could not have been handled the way Juma was. She has been unfairly treated hence destroying a career she has struggled to build over the years. We need to stand with her,” she said.
Kobia said women cannot reach top positions where they will be required to make crucial decisions if they are not economically empowered.

Catherine Musakali, founder and chairperson of Women on Boards Network, Kenya said: “We need to anchor governance in the value and perspective that comes from inclusive approaches to decision-making and that means more women in more companies and in more countries in the boardroom. Our programme will help to make this happen.”

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