SECTIONS

We have lowered the bar for public appointments

A constitution dummy on display during the swearing-in ceremony of President William Ruto at Kasarani. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

The phrase ‘freedom has come’ is taking worrying trajectories.

While it was used during the campaigns by the Kenya Kwanza coalition to pass on the message that the country will be freed from persecution and from debilitating poverty, it has become a phrase to ‘free’ people facing serious integrity questions.

Although the president has the prerogative to appoint anyone he feels suitable to perform certain tasks, he has a constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law. The recent appointments, from the Cabinet to parastatal honchos, the phrase freedom has crept up one too many times.

It has been used to goad those who question the integrity of the appointees. Whereas a tenet in the Bill of Rights dictates that one is innocent until proven guilty, wouldn’t it be fair and reasonable to wait for suspects to be cleared first before they are appointed?

Senior government employees, starting with the Cabinet, are the ambassadors of the country. If we have men and women of wanting character as the face of Kenya, what does that tell the world? The suspects, who are many, are there by dint of having or thought to have bent the law for personal gain.

It, therefore, behoves any appointing authority to wait for court processes to be completed before giving such people public jobs.

Chapter Six of the Constitution will only make sense when people suspected of corruption or any other crimes are not only suspended from office but also blocked from getting any other public appointments until they are cleared of their alleged transgressions.

Kenya has no shortage of qualified people devoid of integrity questions who can serve in these offices.

Whenever one appears in court, judicial officers are usually wary of whether the accused can influence or interfere with a case and that is why some public officers facing corruption charges have been ordered not to access their offices or contact key witnesses.

When such persons are appointed to top positions, won’t they be capable of doing what the court feared, or to hurt the public further, if the allegations against them were true?