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MPs save Tabitha Mutemi from losing MCK job

NATIONAL
By Patrick Vidija | April 28th 2021

Tabitha Mutemi (left) with her lawyer Kethi Kilonzo. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has urged members of the public to seek redress in court on matters pertaining to the contravention of the law.

Muturi said as the country heads to the 2022 general election, it was becoming difficult for the house to make decisions on such matters.

He said though Article 119 of the constitution allows any person to petition the parliament on any matter, they should examine whether it was within the powers of the house to decide on a matter.

Muturi made the ruling in parliament after the MPs unanimously allowed Tabitha Mutemi to seat in the Media Council of Kenya as a board member.

A parliamentary committee had recommended the sacking of Mutemi who is IEBC's Communications Manager.

National Assembly ICT Committee chaired by William Kisang (Marakwet West) made the decision in a report tabled in the House.

The Kisang-led committee argued that they had sufficient grounds to compel ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru to revoke the appointment of Mutemi.

The committee said the petitioner Muriuki Muriungi, had proved beyond doubt that Mutemi was not illegible for an appointment since she was holding a full-time job at the polls agency.

But the house was told that the committee made a decision basing a petition whose petitioner was not invited to argue their case.

According to Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, Mutemi who is accused in the petition was not also allowed any chance to argue her case before the committee.

This, despite her making several attempts to beg the committee to allow her to appear even virtually.

As a result, the house unanimously agreed that there were procedural gaps in how the committee conducted the matter.

"It is against rules of natural justice to deny anyone a chance to table evidence when they are accused. Indeed, when such instances happen, the Speaker must be notified of such transgressions," Muturi said.

He added, "It is evident that some of the matters on violation of the law are fairly tricky because this Parliament is a house for politics and decisions made will not purely be on the basis of law but politics".

Muturi said members of the public seeking to petition the house should rather seek redress in courts of law or tribunals.

The recommendations by the committee were on the basis of a petition to have her removed for gross misconduct and in breach of the Constitution by holding two public offices.

Muriungi said Mutemi should not continue holding the two offices arguing that the constitution restricts full-time state officers from participating in any other gainful employment.

According to IEBC Act, members and employees of the commission are prohibited from holding other public offices during their tenure of office with the commission.

Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto also argued that Mutemi's continued stay in office was in contravention of the law and IEBC Acts.

Ogeto cited provisions of the Act that prohibit an employee of the electoral agency from holding any other public office.

“IEBC prohibits its employees from holding any other public office when still serving the commission,” said Ogeto.

ICT Principal Secretary Esther Koimett while appearing before the committee that the ministry had advised Mutemi to make up her mind about the two positions as she could not continue holding both.

“The holding of both offices of an employee of the IEBC and a member of the Media Council of Kenya by Mutemi is a violation of the Constitution and other statutes requiring immediate remedial action,” Koimett said.

“The ministry, in a letter dated September 16, 2020, advised Mutemi that she could not hold both positions and should decide by September 30, 2020, either to remain an MCK Council Member or IEBC employee,” she added.

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