Members of Parliament have objected to the reinstatement of Moses Wetang’ula and Thuita Mwangi to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as minister and permanent secretary respectively.
The chairman of the Defence and Foreign Relations Adan Keynan, member Benedict Gunda and the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Dr Boni Khalwale want their return to government put on hold until President Kibaki informs the House if they have been cleared of corruption allegations levelled against him.
The MPs also want Transport minister Amos Kimunya sacked since the House passed a censure motion against him three years ago.
Parliament’s uproar comes just a day after the President, in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, reshuffled Cabinet.
The MPs asked Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, as the Leader of Government Business, to explain why the resolution of Parliament had been ignored regarding the scandal in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
They also called on the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende to make a ruling regarding the strength of Parliamentary resolutions and what he thought of the Executive’s stance to wish away key resolutions of the House on the governance of the country.
“We want your ruling so that Parliament is removed from the perception that we’re part of an Executive that is not interested in fighting corruption,” said Mr Khalwale.
Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Thuita quit their duties to allow the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the Sh1.1 billion scandal in the purchase of Kenya’s embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
Mr Gunda and Mr Keynan declared Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Thuita as “unfit to hold public office in the republic of Kenya” –a declaration that was passed by Parliament.
“To date, we have not seen any report from a competent investigating authority in the country clearing the two,” Mr Gunda said, as he called on the Speaker to quickly convene the disciplinary committee of Parliament to penalise the two for misleading the committee as it investigated the dubious embassy purchase.
Mr Keynan added: “I don’t remember this House reversing its earlier decision that the conduct of the two was incompatible with that of a public officer. Notwithstanding the recall, these individuals should remain suspended. They should not be allowed to transact any business unless the Speaker makes a ruling to the contrary.”
Mr Keynan noted that in the Constitution, the House Committees had been elevated to have powers similar to those of the High Court and that its decision was therefore binding to the Executive and individual MPs.
“Why are resolutions of the House reversed through the backdoor?” posed Mr Keynan
They said that Parliament had a duty to protect the Constitution and that they won’t sit back and watch the House’s authority ignored, when it came to sowing the seeds of good governance as enshrined in the Leadership and Integrity chapter in the Constitution.
“The Executive has shown utter contempt of parliamentary procedures by appointing the two against a resolution of the House. This is the legislative arm, therefore anything or anyone that shows contempt to Parliament has no place in Kenya,” said Mr Keynan.
“What is the role of Parliament? Is it just to rubberstamp? Just to squander public money doing reports which are thereafter thrown in the dustbin?”
Dr Khalwale said Wednesday’s reinstatement of Mr Wetang’ula “raises very serious doubts” on the Kenya’s commitment about the fight against corruption.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), I wanted to congratulate my brother, but asked myself, what is greater, to congratulate a brother who has not been cleared or to fight corruption in this country,” said Dr Khalwale.
He said he was annoyed when the President re-appointed Mr Kimunya back to the Cabinet just months after a successful censure motion against the minister in the House.
“The pain of preparing a censure motion, the hours, the amounts of research, the risk you go through cannot just be reduced to an exercise in futility. Kenya is bigger than the President it is bigger than this National Assembly. We must protect taxpayers money.”
The PAC chairman asked the Speaker to make a ruling on a copy of the Cockar Report that Dr Khalwale tabled in the House telling the details about Mr Kimunya’s role in the secret sale of the Grand Regency Hotel to Libyan investors. The hotel has since changed its name to Laico Regency.
Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim ruled that the Speaker will make a ruling on the queries raised next Tuesday and so will the Vice President.