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Vetting ought to give country only the best

By The Standard | December 1st 2015

The process of vetting the latest nominees to the posts of Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries kicks off today when Parliament receives President Uhuru Kenyatta’s list of nominees.

Unlike in the past when public service appointments were determined more by loyalty and political correctness than by merit, the 2010 Constitution made it mandatory to vet all appointments to public office. This was to ensure only the best, in terms of qualifications and integrity, got the jobs. Put another way, vetting is meant to ensure a high level of fidelity to duty and country; that corruption is minimised and that fairness and competency is upheld at all times.

After Mr Kenyatta made the appointments, attention now shifts to Parliament. The public looks up to legislators to uncompromisingly enforce the vetting process. Because vetting is a solemn national duty. And to pass, the nominees, like Caesar’s wife, must be beyond reproach.

Given the high degree of corruption, incompetence and a culture of business-as-usual in the public service, the question is: has vetting achieved what it was intended for? Before their dismissal or resignations, parliamentarians had attempted to introduce impeachment motions against four Cabinet Secretaries whom they alleged were incompetent or corrupt barely two years after clearing them. Why had they not picked out the signs during vetting?

At times, the feeling is that the MPs are out of touch. Indeed, Members of Parliament epitomise what is wrong with the Kenyan body politic: a lethal cocktail of incompetence, duplicity and grotesque opportunism. Thanks to MPs’ knack for sideshows and refusal to do the job they were elected to do, many unsuitable candidates have been ushered into high office.

That should not be the case. Indeed, MPs should stop looking at themselves as voting machines at the beck and call of the Executive, but rather as an important institution in a working democracy that celebrates checks and balance.

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