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Three CS nominees face the axe in vetting report by MPs

Tourism, Wildlife & Heritage CS nominee Peninah Malonza during the vetting session by the Committee on Appointments. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

President William Ruto yesterday suffered a double blow after a parliamentary select committee cast aspersions on three of his Cabinet nominees, including rejection of Peninah Malonza for the position of Wildlife, Tourism and Heritage.

The Kenya Kwanza administration was dealt a blow after the opposition side tabled a dissenting report in which they expressed their reservations on the nomination of Agriculture and Livestock nominee Mithika Linturi and that of Aisha Jumwa to the Public Service, Gender and Affirmative action docket.

The Committee of Appointments chaired by Speaker Moses Wetang’ula in its report tabled before the House following a marathon vetting exercise approved 24 nominees but unanimously rejected Malonza citing her unsuitability to hold office.

“Having conducted the approval hearings for the nominees pursuant to law, the committee recommends that the House rejects the nomination of Peninah Malonza for appointment as Wildlife, Tourism and Heritage Cabinet Secretary,” stated the report.

It, however, recommended for approval Kithure Kindiki (Interior and National Coordination), former Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u (Treasury), Garissa Township MP Aden Duale (Defence) and Alice Wahome (Water, Sanitation and Irrigation).

Also given the nod were Alfred Mutua (Foreign and Diaspora Affairs), Moses Kuria (Trade, Investment and Industry), Rebecca Miano (East African Community and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Development) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Roads, Transport and Public Works) after they were recommended for approval. Others included Soipan Tuya (Environment and Forestry), Ezekiel Machogu (Education CS), Salim Mvurya (Mining, Blue Economy), Davies Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum), Simon Chelugui (Cooperatives and SMEs), Ababu Namwamba (Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts), Zachariah Mwangi Njeru (Lands, Housing and Urban Development) and Susan Wafula (Health).

The 21-member committee in its report however noted that while Malonza passed the integrity test, she did not demonstrate capacity to hold and administer the Tourism docket. “…the nominee did not demonstrate knowledge of topical, administrative and technical issues touching on the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage. Consequently, the nominee lacks the requisite abilities and experience to serve as the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage,” read the report in part.

Malonza’s suitability will however be decided by the entire House, who might overrule the committee and approve her appointment. During her vetting, Malonza revealed that she was worth a net worth of Sh300 million. She attributed her wealth to properties in Mombasa, Kajiado and Kitui counties (Sh240 million), Sh30 million worth of shares in Saccos, Sh20 million in livestock and farm produce and Sh3 million in vehicles. 

CS nominees Linturi and Jumwa also found themselves subject of debate after MPs allied to the Azimio la Umoja coalition in the Committee of Appointments recommended for their rejection by the House.

Through a dissenting report tabled in the National Assembly yesterday, eight legislators allied to the Raila Odinga-led party rejected the names of Agriculture’s Linturi and his Public Service counterpart Jumwa over integrity issues.

Public Service & Gender Nominee Aisha Jumwa. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

MPs Opiyo Wandayi, Robert Mbui, Junet Mohammed, David Pkosing, Naisula Lesuuda, Mishi Mboko, Abdi Shurie, and Caleb Amisi observed that the two nominees had integrity issues thus not fit for public office.

They gave a dissenting report even after their Kenya Kwanza counterparts sought to endorse the two for the nominated positions.

“We are of the firm view that Chapter Six of the Constitution was put in place by Kenyans, well aware of the highest standards of ethics and morality they needed to see in holders of public office. Kenyans did not do so in ignorance of the principles of presumption of innocence and fair hearing,” read the reporr.

“The intention of Kenyans was that the standards of holding public office be so elevated to a level that simple allegations tainting the office would warrant an automatic disqualification, notwithstanding any judicial finding on criminal culpability on the part of a nominee,” added the report.

On Linturi, the MPs cited 35 court cases that are active and brought to the fore the grave matter of the “questionable” academic qualifications including what they termed his elusive Indian university degree which they said could not be traced.

“Linturi stated that he could not present some of his academic certificates, including a degree purportedly acquired in India, following court orders that bar him from accessing his house where the said documents are allegedly kept,” read the report. They cited the dropped attempted rape charge, which they termed as “so grave as to demean the office to which Linturi has been nominated.”

Mithika Linturi, CS Nominee for Agriculture Livestock Development. 

“Due to the gravity of these allegations, the court cases against Linturi, the integrity questions they raise, and the unsatisfactory answers he provided, we find him unsuitable to hold public office and reject his nomination to the Cabinet,” stated the report.

The lawmakers also disapproved Jumwa’s appointment, citing her pending murder case. She is accused of the murder of Jola Ngumbao in 2019 during campaigns in the Ganda Ward by-election. She is accused jointly with her aide Geoffrey Okuto. But during vetting, Jumwa stated that she did not shoot anybody, she doesn’t know how to handle a gun and did not own one.

She also asked to be a prosecution witness upon the review of the case by the DPP further noting that she is seeking an out of court settlement with the family over the matter.

“On this basis, she says she should not be denied an opportunity to serve under the principle of presumption of innocence until one is proved guilty. She, however, did not seem to appreciate how that integrity question would taint the position she has been nominated to because of public perception of integrity deficit,” noted the report.

The lawmakers said that they held the strong view that the principle of presumption of innocence until one is proved guilty should never apply in situations of appointment to a high public office such as the Cabinet.

Parliament is still considering the report and its outcome could change ahead of the voting to be conducted today.