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Kenya: Bill seeks to have part-time commissioners at EACC

By Alphonce Shiundu | June 25th 2015

Nairobi, Kenya: Members of Parliament have made two key proposals that seek to weaken the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

After sending home its commissioners, a parliamentary committee has now come up with a new Bill to amend the EACC Act to increase the number of commissioners from three to five, who will now work on part-time basis.

That means there will just be the secretariat, led by EACC secretary and chief executive Halakhe Waqo, doing the job of fighting graft, economic crimes and abuse of office in the country.

The chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Samuel Chepkonga tabled the EACC (Amendment) Bill for the First Reading and asked that it be fast-tracked through the House so that before the new commissioners take charge at Integrity House, they will know the terms of service had changed.

The Bill comes at a time when a special team appointed by President Kenyatta is already in the process of hiring the chairman and two commissioners for the EACC.

"This Bill ought to have been published much earlier, but unfortunately it was delayed. We were hoping that before the President appointed the selection panel, this Bill would have been debated," said Mr Chepkonga.

Majority Chief Whip Katoo ole Metito backed Chepkonga with a call for the House to quickly agree that a new-look EACC was an important matter.

"This Bill may enrich the process that is going on so that the new things in the Bill can be employed in the ongoing recruitment," said Mr Metito.

The Bill gives the President a maximum of 21 days to set up a selection panel to replace any of the commissioners should they quit. Currently, there are no time-lines.

"Where a vacancy arises in the membership of the commission, the President shall, within 21 days following the occurrence of the event giving rise to the vacancy, constitute a selection panel for purposes of filling the vacancy," the Bill adds.

The panel will then give the president 15 names – three qualified candidates for each vacancy – and then the President will have overall say on who will be boss. The names will then go back to the National Assembly for vetting before a formal appointment.

The decision to amend the EACC Act comes at a time when Opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the President of leading a cosmetic fight against corruption.

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