Kenya Kwanza, the ruling coalition, has filed a petition in Parliament to amend the Constitution to allow President William Ruto to be the executive chairman of the Public Service Commission.
The petition also seeks to have the post of chief cabinet secretary entrenched in the constitution. This is coming when President William Ruto’s 50 appointees to occupy the slots have been annulled by the High Court.
The petition, which, if successful in amending some articles of the constitution, will alter the structure of government, has been filed by Kevin Kiare and John Wangai.
They propose granting Ruto the role of Executive Chair and involving CASs in the Commission’s functions, arguing that it will improve leadership and functionality within the public service.
“If amendments go through the parliament, the President would assume the position of Executive Chair, exercising executive leadership and providing oversight over the Commission’s activities,” the petition said. According to the petitioners, their proposals are in tandem with other arms of government.
“This arrangement mirrors the leadership roles held by the Chief Justice in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Speaker of the National Assembly in the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).”
Kiare made a name after he successfully petitioned Parliament to remove four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners accused of trying to overturn President Ruto’s win. He is now spearheading the campaign for PSC reforms.
He said the petition hopes to amend Article 233 of the constitution to enhance coordination and accountability within the public service.
‘’The CAS position to be incorporated in the Constitution and the Public Service Commission Act via the establishment of the Office of the Chief Administrative Secretary according to Article 132(4)(a) of the Constitution as read with Section 30 of the Public Service Commission Act, 2017. A Chief Administrative Secretary will be responsible to the Cabinet Secretary in performing his or her duties,” the petition by Kiare said.
The petition further wants the inclusion of CASs in the Public Service Commission’s functions. According to Kiare, CASs will hold crucial positions within the government, and involving them in the Commission’s activities would enhance coordination and accountability within the public service.
The petition said that Chief administrative Secretaries’ roles would include responding to issues and questions touching on the portfolio assigned to the office, liaising with County Governments on matters of concurrent mandate, and providing inter-ministerial and sectoral coordination.
“The president will not have absolute powers on the commission. He will have relative power in the JSC Parliament to prevent a rogue person from becoming president. Avoid being misadvised. We are looking at the workload of ministers,” Kiare said.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said such legislation was unnecessary given that the president already enjoyed the powers he could recommend to the Public Service Commission to create any position within PSC. “Unless you want the law to be too descriptive, the President already enjoys the same powers directly and delegated through his appointees; therefore, the petition is unnecessary,” said Cherargei.
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Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah called the petition a non-starter, warning that Kenyans would not allow the country to regress.