PS nominees to be sworn-in after House adopts vetting report

Parliament has approved all 51 Principal Secretaries nominated by President William Ruto. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The National Assembly approved all 51 Principal Secretaries nominated by President William Ruto after the relevant departmental House committees tabled reports on vetting.

The PS nominees will be sworn-in after State House sent an invitation to the press indicating that the function will start at 7am on December 2.

However, the Minority side of the House told the Speaker that debate on the committee's report should not be done in haste to allow members to make informed contributions on the issue.

Vetting of the PS nominees ended on Wednesday, November 30, with the approval coming a day later. Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi requested Speaker Moses Wetang'ula to give members more time to go through the reports.

“We need ample time to go through these reports and they are very voluminous. Otherwise, we shall not be doing justice to ourselves and the country Mr Speaker,” he said.

However, Mr Wandayi’s request was rejected with the Majority side arguing that they had considered all issues expected by law during the vetting and were satisfied with the nominees' suitability.

“95 per cent of members of this House are first learners. We have already gone through the report, we have internalised it and we are ready to support or not support,” said Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa.

“We finally had the two nominees appearing before the committee yesterday and during the vetting, we were able to satisfy ourselves as a committee that all preliminary procedures were followed and that the two satisfy the committee that they are fit to hold office as PSs,” said Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie.

The Speaker's decision was not easy to swallow for Minority Whip Junet Mohammed who stated that the vetting is "very serious" and should not be conducted in a rush.

“People sat down yesterday, wrote the report and tabled it in the House yesterday. As a House we will look like we are doing a mockery on the vetting process,” argued Junet.

With Parliament expected to go on recess until February 13, the sitting was extended to dispense with all House business with focus on the approval of PS nominees.

Committee chairpersons who led the vetting tabled the reports before thin the House stating that the PS nominees displayed competency for the respective dockets with background checks also clearing them of any wrong in the eyes of the law.

“We based our approval on their academic credentials, professional training, experience and integrity levels and they all qualified,” said Social Protection Committee chairperson Alice Ng’ang’a, while calling for the approval of PS nominees Veronica Mueni (Gender and Affirmative Action) Josepth Mugosi (Social Protection and Senior Citizen Affairs) and Ismail Madey (Youth Affairs).

“The three officers were very qualified and suited to serve as Principal Secretaries in the various sectors. All of them demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the sectors they are going to have a mandate on,” said Education committee chairperson Kibiwott Melly, while presenting the name of Dr Belio Kipsang (State Department for Basic Education) Esther Thaara Muhoria (State Department for TVET) and Beatrice Inyangala (State Departments for Higher Education and Research).

Notable names that made it through the vetting include Nixon Korir (State Department for Lands and Physical Planning), Prof Edward Kisiangani (State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunications), Amb Julius Bitok (State Department for Citizen Services) and Alfred K'Ombundo (State Department for Trade).

Others approved are Jonathan Mueke (Sports and The Arts), Festus Ngeno (Environment), Ephantus Kimotho (Forestry), John Ololtuaa (Tourism), Sylvia Naseya Muhoro (Wildlife), Ummy Mohammed Bashir (Culture and Heritage), Dr Paul Ronoh (Water and Sanitation), Gitonga Mugambi (Irrigation) and Alex Wachira (Energy).

The approval comes after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) challenged the PS nominees list on grounds that it fell short of regional and tribal balance prompting the High Court to stop the vetting process.

However, The Employment and Labour Relations Court allowed the National Assembly to continue with the vetting stating that LSK had filed the petitions prematurely.

National assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa defended the list of PS nominees arguing that everything was done under the guidance of the Constitution with consideration of the nominees' gender, Kenya's diverse communities, persons living with disabilities and the youth.

"All the committees that vetted the Principal Secretary nominees and in their reports tabled in this House did make reference to the report of the Public Service Commission,” said Mr Ichung’wa.