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House vets PS nominees despite orders from court

 State Department for Cooperatives PS nominee Patrick Kiburi Kilemi at County Hall mini-chamber, Nairobi, November 15, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Parliament Tuesday continued vetting Principal Secretary nominees despite the Employment and Labour Court suspending the process until a case is heard and determined.

The National Assembly Committee on Defence Chairman Nelson Koech (Belgut MP) ruled that they had not been served any letter against the ongoing vetting nor the nominees.

"There has not been any petition for or against the nominees, so we move forward," he said.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) filed a petition in court challenging the list of the PS nominees on grounds that it falls short of gender rule, tribal and regional balance. Defence PS nominee Patrick Mariru who was the first to be vetted supported the Government decision to send KDF troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr Mariru said DRC is a member state of the East African community, (EAC) and it's only fair for Kenya to ensure its stability.

"There is so much that Kenya and Kenyans can gain from DRC and that can only happen if the country is stable and at peace. As we speak, there is a Kenyan bank that is doing very well in DRC. I therefore agree that sending troops there is a worthy investment because if DRC is ailing, Kenya will be ailing and EAC will be ailing as well," he said.

The MPs, however, failed to understand why only Kenya was quick to deploy its troops to DRC yet there are other countries that constitute the EAC.

"Do you want Kenya to be the policeman of East Africa?" Posed Kamukunji MP Yussuf Hassan.

But Mariru said that South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda have already been engaged in the peace mission. Irrigation PS nominee Gitonga Mugambi said irrigation budget is too low to alleviate the effects of drought and ensure food security.

"We only put Sh8b into irrigation for the entire country," Mr Mugambi said.

"How much do we put into roads? If we just sacrifice two roads... I only need Sh25b per year and I will deliver 100,000 acres under irrigation every year. After five years, no Kenyan will die from drought," he added.

He was taken to task over the Galana Kulalu project, which stalled under his watch as National Irrigation Authority Chief Executive Officer. Lawmakers wanted to know why the NIA ignored advice that suggested that the project was not viable.

"The technical advice showed that Galana was not feasible and we went ahead with it. Why?" Posed Kisumu West MP Rosa Buyu.

Mugambi told the David Bowen-led Committee on Blue Economy and Fisheries that the project was viable.

"I have done 99 per cent of the project," he said, blaming a foreign company that was to construct the dam for stalling the project.

"The Israeli company that was to do the dam shifted goal posts and we could not agree with them," said the PS nominee. "They wanted some payment... I asked what about and found it could not be paid... They refused to sign performance contracts and refused to reveal the experts they contracted... I cancelled their contract," he added.

Mugambi noted that the project had consumed Sh5.9b at the time the Israeli contract was cancelled. He also made a case for the controversial Arror and Kimwarer dams, saying they need to be considered.

Blue Economy and Fisheries PS nominee Betsy Njagi promised to push for the establishment of fish processing plants in fish-producing regions.

"Infrastructure is poor across the country, hurting fish farmers. We will work with the Transport Ministry to ensure that our fish farmers are empowered and are not denied access to markets because of poor infrastructure," she said.

Water and Sanitation PS nominee Paul Rono also appeared before the Committee on Blue Economy and Fisheries. Performance and Delivery Management PS nominee Esther Ngero appeared for vetting before the Administration and Internal Affairs Committee.

Foreign Affairs PS nominee, Korir Sing'oei, said the country will come up with mechanisms to ensure workers that travel to the Middle East for employment can east be traced as an assessment will be done frequently to check up on the workers. He told the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations that the budget of the Foreign Affairs ministry will be reviewed in order to save taxpayers from unnecessary expenditure in foreign travels.

"We will examine the budget on foreign travel in totality. Allow me once in office to get the specifics before we take any action," he said

Diaspora PS nominee Resline Njogu who appeared before the same committee promised to ensure that policies are crafted to strengthen the relationship between the Government and Kenyans in the diaspora.

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