State swamped by court cases, Cabinet told

President William Ruto during the joint National Executive Retreat and Parliamentary Group Consultative Meeting in Naivasha, Nakuru County. With him is the Attorney General Justin Muturi on February 19, 2024. [PCS, Standard]

A staggering 40,333 unresolved court cases against the government pose a significant threat to government projects and estimated revenue.

This was disclosed in the “Executive Brief” lined up for discussion at a Cabinet retreat in Naivasha.

The Cabinet in the Executive Brief report, says potential cost of these legal battles is Sh1.763 trillion, with an average case age of 5.83 years, denying the government revenue.

The report emphasised an urgent need to address these challenges for enhanced governance efficiency and financial management.

Pending court matters, adds the brief seen by The Standard, between the Executive and Judiciary cover various issues, contributing to a substantial financial burden on the government.

One year into President William Ruto’s term, the Judiciary has reversed several crucial decisions, creating tension between the Executive and the courts. The rapport between the Judiciary and the Executive, established when the Kenya Kwanza coalition took office under Ruto’s leadership, has faced several challenges.

In an effort to restore faith in the Judiciary, Ruto appointed judges rejected by his predecessor and increased budgetary allocations.

However, Kenya Kwanza has faced setbacks as the Judiciary overturns crucial decisions pivotal to governance.

Constitutional lawyer Bob Mukangi defended the Judiciary, stating that the government has failed to follow the law and listen to stakeholders, resulting in court cases. He mentioned the finance bill and housing levy as instances where the government met stakeholders but failed to incorporate their views.

“When you don’t listen to Kenyans, they will wait for you in court. That’s why you can pass a law in the Senate and still find Okiya Omtatah in court,” Mukangi said.

He said Kenya Kwanza cases were unpopular in public courts just like they were in judicial courts. “Kenyans are not happy with Kenya Kwanza. The Judiciary does not look for cases; cases look for them. Kenyans are using court facilities to get justice,” Mukangi said. 

The High Court extended orders preventing the National Treasury from implementing the disputed Finance Act, 2023. Justice Mugure Thande noted that Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u failed to convince the court why the earlier order should be suspended.

“Upon evaluation of the submissions, I have no difficulty finding that the petitioners have established a case with a probability of success,” Justice Thande said.