Blow to integrity as MPS ignore adverse dossiers on Ruto Cabinet nominees

National Assembly during one of the Parliamentary plenary session on October 10th,2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The parliamentary committee that vetted President William Ruto’s Cabinet nominees received 23 memoranda from the public, the bulk of which opposed the appointment of several nominees.

In affidavits filed before the National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments, several Kenyans wanted the nominees, all of whom have been approved by Parliament, rejected, citing integrity issues. The petitions were in addition to adverse reports against some like Agriculture Cabinet Secretary-designate Mithika Linturi and Trade CS-designate Moses Kuria, submitted by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The EACC told the committee it was investigating Linturi for allegedly forging academic papers and Kuria for allegedly committing procurement and conflict of interest offences. Similarly, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations flagged Gender CS-designate Aisha Jumwa over ongoing murder and corruption-related cases.

The most objections, five, were filed against Jumwa, with Kuria facing four and Linturi and Treasury CS-designate Njuguna Ndung’u facing three each.

As MPs debated a report by the committee on Tuesday, Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said CSs ought to be “like Caesar’s wife - beyond reproach.” Davis Malombe, the Executive Director of Kenya Human Rights Commission, had tried to make the same point in his affidavit to the committee.

In his submissions, Malombe wanted Jumwa, Kuria, Ndung’u, Alice Wahome (Water CS-designate) and Ababu Namwamba (Sports CS-designate) blocked from ascending to Cabinet, arguing they fell short of Chapter Six of the Constitution, which prescribes the standards of leadership and integrity of public and state officers.

His issue with Jumwa was the murder and corruption-related charges she currently faces. Malombe’s case against Kuria was that he is under investigations for allegedly confessing to have received a bribe of Sh100,000 to vote for former Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya as Majority Leader in 2020.

Kuria’s nomination was objected by Transparency International Executive Director Sheila Masinde and Peter Mungai, as well as former workers of Nguo Yetu Limited.

In further submissions, Malombe took issue with Namwamba for being adversely mentioned in a bribery scandal in 2014 and disagreed with Prof Ndung’u’s appointment owing to abuse of office charges.

“Prof Njuguna Ndung’u for facing abuse of office charges involving irregular award of a tender while serving as Central Bank Governor in 2014 and for being adversely mentioned or being involved in the irregular sale of the Grand Regency Hotel in 2008 according to the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel,” Malombe explained his dissent.

Assaulting IEBC staff

He opposed Wahome’s approval citing a video clip allegedly captured her allegedly assaulting an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission official in 2017, arguing that it mirrored actions by former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza in 2012.

“In vetting suitability of candidates based on Chapter Six of the Constitution, Parliament should bar persons adversely mentioned by reports of competent public fact-finding institutions to possibly have or to have violated the law, abused their office, or acted in a manner that causes indignity to themselves or another person,” Malombe said.

Masinde also wanted Linturi and Energy CS-designate Davis Chirchir blocked for failing to meet Chapter Six requirements.

Residents of Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties also wanted Linturi rejected for the cases he faces, which include allegedly making inflammatory remarks.

“That the fact that the nominee has resulted to negotiating covertly instead of clearing his name in a court of law is indicative of his moral inclinations,” the petitioners said in a statement.

In other prayers, Masinde argued that Chirchir did not qualify to be appointed into Cabinet.

“...for being adversely mentioned in the Chicken-gate scandal where officials of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission received kick-backs from a UK-based printing company,” the committee observed.

Jumwa was also the subject of three other objections filed by Devshi Kanbi, Eliud Matindi and Peter Masolo. Narran accused Jumwa of illegally dispossessing him of his land, a matter that is pending in court, with Matindi citing criminal charges facing the former Malindi MP.

“That the nomination of the nominee, while she was subject to ongoing criminal prosecutions for allegedly committing very serious offences while she was a state officer, is unconstitutional, null and void,” Matindi said.

On his part, Masolo wanted Jumwa’s nomination rejected based on utterances she had made in public. He would also object Njuguna, arguing that he had performed poorly as the Central Bank of Kenya governor. Allan Otota, a former driver employed by Duale, challenged the suitability of the former Garissa Township MP, accusing him of wrongful dismissal, a matter that he took up to court. 

“Mr Cyrus Kariuki submitted a memorandum vide email contesting the nomination of Aden Duale as the Cabinet Secretary for Defence on grounds that the nominee is temperamental and had previously made unsettling remarks that bordered towards sympathizing with terrorists,” the committee observed of another petition seeking to block Duale’s appointment.

Gichuna Wahome, a Kenyan, opposed the nomination of Education CS-designate Ezekiel Machogu for alleged illegal land acquisition. 

“Mr Gichuma averred that the nominee as a District Officer in Ol-Joro-Rok Division in Nyandarua County failed to distribute land to colonial villagers and squatters as per the directions of the late President Moi. Further, he averred that the nominee allegedly allocated himself and his cronies land and discriminated against women and widows,” the committee observed.

The committee stated that only four of the petitions (by Davis Malombe, Sheila Masinde, Devshi Kanbi and Eliud Matindi) met the legal threshold as they had been filed under oath.