Over 100 chairpersons and board members of State corporations appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 should leave office.
Three judges of the High Court yesterday ruled that the President and some of his Cabinet members failed to ensure that the hiring process was transparent, competitive and accountable.
"A declaration is hereby issued that all appointments to State corporations and parastatals made by the President or Cabinet secretaries in March, June and July 2016 are unconstitutional and order is hereby issued quashing the gazette notices of the appointments,” ruled the judges.
Justices Jessie Lessit, Chacha Mwita and Lucy Njuguna said the appointments were unfair because they locked out people who were qualified for the jobs.
The ruling is a victory for the Katiba Institute and the African Centre for Open Governance, who had challenged the appointment of 128 individuals to serve in 28 State corporations.
The decision is bound to change the culture of nepotism and cronyism in public appointments as the judges upheld the argument that the practice of rewarding political losers with State jobs at the expense of deserving citizens must come to an end.
The ruling, however, will not affect those who had been appointed for a period of three years because they have completed their terms.
Some of the individuals whose appointment was contested include Kazungu Kambi, Katwa Kigen, Mathew Iteere, Julius Karangi, Joseph Kibwana, Benjamin Cheboi, Doyo Godana and Caroli Omondi.
The affected State corporations include the National Social Security Fund, Kenya Ports Authority, Agricultural Development Corporation, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, National Irrigation Board and Kenya Investment Authority.
The three-judge bench ruled that although the Constitution allows the President and Cabinet secretaries to make appointments without involving the Public Service Commission, they must comply with requirements on gender and regional balance.
"They are the appointing authorities and have the mandate to nominate any person to serve in State corporations and parastatals. The appointments, however, must be transparent, competitive, merit-based and subject to affirmative action."