Court allows vetting of Governor Nassir's Cabinet nominees

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir

Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The vetting and approval of 10 individuals nominated to serve in the Mombasa County Executive will proceed, after a court failed to halt the process.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Agnes Nzei noted that stopping the vetting at this stage would be a premature judicial intervention.

“I am not convinced that the application is merited. The same is hereby dismissed,” said the judge.

Justice Nzei further said claims that Governor Abdulswamad Nassir’s nomination fell short of the two-thirds gender rule, among other issues, will be investigated by the county assembly during vetting and approval.

In addition, the court ruled that Mr Nassir countered the claims that the nominations were shrouded in secrecy by demonstrating that the 10 posts were advertised in the print media.

“…This, despite the fact that the governor was not bound by the law to advertise the positions,” added the judge.

The court’s refusal to halt the process now paves the way for the county assembly to proceed with the vetting and approval of the 10 nominees.

Four Mombasa residents have sued Mr Nassir over the nominations, which they have said fall short of the local employment scheme.

The petitioners, Abdullmajid Ali, Mesh Mwaniki, Maria Magdalene and Mohamed Mohsin have also faulted the process of nomination claiming that at least 70 per cent of those nominated should have been local residents.

They also allege that the nomination was shrouded in secrecy, but the governor has clarified in court documents that he advertised all the posts before shortlisting the most qualified for the positions.

Mr Nassir nominated the 10 CECs on January 15 after a five-month wait since he assumed office.

In the challenged nominations, Mr Nassir nominated his deputy Francis Thoya to head the Environment and Solid Waste Management docket, a position he has been holding since they were elected.

Others nominated are Ms Emily Achieng (Water Natural Resources and Climate Change Resilience), Mr Kenneth Muigai (Public Service Administration, Youth, Gender, Social Services and Sports) and Ms Kibibi Abdallah (Blue Economy, Agriculture and Livestock).

Others are Mr Mohammed Osman (Tourism, Culture and Trade), Dr Mbwarali Kame (Education and Digital Transformation), Mr Evans Oanda (Finance and Economic Planning), Dr Swabah Ahmed (Health) and Mr Daniel Otieno (Transport and Infrastructure).

However, before their names could be presented to the county assembly for vetting and approval, the four residents moved to court.

Through Shabaan Associates LLP, the petitioners argued that the nominations were done in contravention of the two-thirds gender rule on public appointments, but the governor has rebutted this claim, saying he observed the law.

In their case, the petitioners want the appointment of County Attorney Jimmy Waliaula overturned, arguing that his tenure ended with that of former governor Hassan Joho.

They said Mr Waliaula has held the position in an acting capacity for the past 10 years, but the county responded that there was no provision in law requiring the county attorney to retire with a governor.

“(The) appointment of Mr Waliaula offends the law as he was meant to serve for the term that (is) commensurate with that of the first regime, whose term expired upon assumption of office of the current governor,” the petitioners stated.

They also argue that such nominations ought to be subjected to public participation as envisioned in the law. 

They want a declaration that the appointment of the 10 county executive committee members and the county secretary was not open, fair, transparent, competitive and subjected to public application.