Vetting reveals MPs' inability to prod cabinet

Some of the individuals who have been vetted for various Cabinet Secretary positions.

This week saw the vetting of President William Ruto’s Cabinet nominees. Parliament’s appointment powers, encapsulated in its vetting function, is a core part of our system of inter-branch checks and balances.

For that reason, it ought to be taken seriously – by parliamentary parties in government and those in the opposition. It was therefore disappointing to see the vetting fall short of the seriousness it deserves.

A few nominees were embarrassingly unprepared, submitted erroneous documents and flippant in their responses to legislators.

The opposition side, in their question, was often playful to a level of cheapening the whole exercise.

It was obvious they had not done their research on nominee’s previous conduct or really thought through strategies of forcing nominees to commit to specific policy stances.

Finally, the “government” side, led by the chair of the committee was often embarrassingly lenient in their questioning. This is not how framers of the Constitution designed the appointment process to work.

An effective government is not just good for Kenyans it is also great politics. Presumably, Ruto wants to be re-elected in 2027. To that end, he needs an administration firing on all colanders in meeting Kenyans’ pressing needs.

Since President Ruto cannot be always everywhere and has no capacity to know about all instances of poor performance, he would be better served with a legislature empowered to hold his cabinet to account.

Legislators can be a fire alarm that alerts the president when his ministers are not working.

To reiterate, this would not only be good politics for the legislators but also the president.

Which is why the deference showed to the nominees in Bunge coupled with opposition legislators’ lack of seriousness bodes ill for ministerial accountability to Parliament in this administration.

Finally, it is worth noting that some nominees came prepared and responded to questions in a manner that inspired confidence and anticipation for their tenure.

Goodspeed to them as they await confirmation.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University