Co-opting Badi to Cabinet ill-advised, unjustified

What you need to know:

  • On paper, the President has powers to invite anyone into a Cabinet meeting but for a specific purpose and only on a needs basis.
  • Accordingly, the President is required to nominate individuals for appointment, who are vetted by Parliament and once approved, are appointed to office.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has stirred public debate by co-opting Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director, Major-General Mohammed Badi, into the Cabinet. On paper, the President has powers to invite anyone into a Cabinet meeting but for a specific purpose and only on a needs basis. But the invitation should never be open-ended, because that would be unconstitutional.

A statement by State House Spokesperson Kenza Dena stated that the director-general shall henceforth attend all Cabinet and committee meetings and was duly sworn in.

Questions abound. Has Maj-Gen Badi been appointed a Cabinet Secretary? If not, how come he is being allowed to attend all its sittings?

The Constitution has express provisions for appointing Cabinet Secretaries and, for good measure, the total number is fixed at 22. Accordingly, the President is required to nominate individuals for appointment, who are vetted by Parliament and once approved, are appointed to office. This has not happened.

Second, Maj-Gen Badi is still a member of the military and part of a chain of command. If he is to attend all Cabinet meetings, how will that place him vis-à-vis his superiors? Third, his role at City Hall is being challenged in court, which means he should be cleared first. However, we note that the current administration is notorious for disrespecting court rulings, which is unedifying and rather unfortunate.

Co-opting Maj-Gen Badi into the Cabinet raises questions about fidelity to the Constitution and the President has to explain the justification for the move. Otherwise it sets a bad precedent on governance and exercise of presidential powers.