Four Principal Secretaries under fire for snubbing House committee

Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria

Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria in Parliament on October 21,2022. He has sponsored a Bill seeking to amend the Penal Code.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Four principal secretaries risk sanctions from the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi for snubbing MPs during the scrutiny of a Bill that spells out how proceeds of mineral resources will be shared.

The National Assembly’s Committee on Environment has written to Mr Mudavadi protesting the decision by Principal Secretaries for Environment, Wildlife, Energy, and Petroleum to appear before it to provide the government position on the Natural Resources (Benefit Sharing) Bill, 2022.

The committee now wants Mr Mudavadi to crack the whip on the PS for Environment Festus Ngeno, Silvia Museiya (Wildlife), Alex Wachira (Energy), and Mohamed Liban (Petroleum).

“We have written to the Prime Cabinet Secretary to take action on this unbecoming conduct of Principal Secretaries,” David Gikaria, who chairs the Environment and Natural Resources committee, said.

“We have timelines and work plans and this is a Bill for government consideration. If a PS can ask us to withdraw a Bill, can you imagine the time and money that has been spent on it at the Senate and now by the National Assembly?”

The Bill, sponsored by Senator Danson Mungatana (Tana River), seeks to provide a legislative framework for the establishment and enforcement of a system of benefit sharing in natural resources exploitation between natural resource exploiters, the National Government, County Governments, and communities.

The Bill proposes the sharing of the revenue of natural resources in the ratio of 60 percent to the national government and 40 percent to county governments.

The decision by the committee to write to Mr Mudavadi, who is in charge of assisting the President and the Deputy President in the coordination and supervision of Government Ministries and State Departments, comes in the wake of last week’s Cabinet reshuffle that also affected eight PS’s.

Carolyne Chilango, the Director for Political Affairs at the Prime Cabinet Secretary’s office, told the committee that she has been trying to make sure that at least there is seamless business under the concerns of ministries and departments with Parliament.

“As I was coming in the morning, I thought there would be some representation from that particular ministry to hear the general comments from the public and stakeholders who had been invited,” Ms Chilango said.

“We assure you that we will bring this matter to the attention of the Prime Cabinet Secretary. We have been trying our level best as an office to make sure that at least there is seamless business under the concerns of ministries, departments, and Parliament.”

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei said the Cabinet reshuffle that also affected eight Ministries was necessitated by the need to optimise performance and enhance service delivery as set out in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

President William Ruto in August revealed that some of his Cabinet Secretaries and Principal were clueless and uninformed about the dockets they occupy.

“I have found that many of you don’t know anything that is happening in your ministry through our interactions. I call many PS’s and ask them what is happening and yet they are not aware of what is happening, how do you run a ministry without information? That is the highest level of incompetence,” Dr Ruto said during the signing of Cabinet Secretaries’ performance contracts at State House on August 1.

The committee wants Mr Mudavadi to crack the whip on non-performing Principal Secretaries and ensure they take parliamentary business seriously.

Mr Gikaria said the committee will in addition to the action taken by Mr Mudavadi, impose punitive penalties including recovery of public monies spent on the two-day public participation sessions that the PS’s snubbed.

“I mean; it is just not acceptable. These ministries need to be a little bit serious with what they're doing. We cannot come here and spend money on accommodation and conference facilities only for people to say that they will not attend. We will surcharge them,” Mr Gikaria said.

The committee met more than 80 stakeholders who presented their views on the Natural Resources (Benefit Sharing) Bill, 2022 at Hilton Garden Inn, Machakos County on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.