MPs to approve or reject PS nominees’ report tomorrow

State Department for Industry Principal Secretary nominee Juma Mukwana during the interview at Parliament Buildings on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has directed vetting and debating of reports on the suitability of principal secretary nominees to be completed tomorrow before MPs proceed on the Christmas break.

The directive by Mr Wetang’ula on the resumption of the vetting comes after the High Court lifted an injunction that had stopped the process following a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

The House will proceed on the Christmas recess tomorrow, as per its calendar adopted by the MPs.

The House leadership has already approved that the House sits tomorrow morning so that the reports of the departmental committees on the vetting of the PS nominees can be tabled, ready for debate and either adoption or rejection of the nominees.

Justice Nduma Nderi of the Employment and Labour Relations Court quashed the order issued by Justice Nzioki Makau of the same court, saying the case against the PS vetting was premature.

But even as Mr Wetang’ula announced the resumption of the vetting, he cautioned the courts against interfering with matters already under consideration in Parliament in line with the doctrine of separation of powers between the three arms or government — Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

“The courts should refrain from making orders on matters actively under consideration in Parliament,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

He added: “The suspension of the vetting is hereby lifted... The departmental committees to resume the vetting immediately, hasten the process and report to the House on Thursday morning.”

On November 16, Mr Wetang’ula suspended the vetting of the PS nominees a day after Justice Nzioki Makau issued the orders.

Once the reports on the suitability of the nominees have been submitted to the House, by a resolution, it will recommend to the President whether to appoint or reject the nominees.

Justice Nderi’s decision came after Attorney-General Justin Muturi appealed against Justice Makau’s orders on behalf of the National Assembly.

Yesterday, the leader of majority in the National Assembly, Mr Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) told the Nation that already the House leadership has directed all departmental committee chairpersons on foreign trips to report back to the country immediately.

This is so that those whose committees had not done the approval hearings on the PS nominees can finalise the vetting today.

“The nominees have been informed and they are ready. The committees are also ready for the process. The reports on those already vetted are ready for tabling in the House,” the Kikuyu MP said.

This means that the committees that had not vetted the nominees will have hours to conclude the vetting and retreat to write their reports for tabling in the House tomorrow morning.

On November 2, President Ruto nominated 51 PSs for various state departments of the government and transmitted their names to the National Assembly for the approval hearings.

A day later, Mr Wetang’ula officially notified the MPs of the nominees and directed that the House departmental committees start the vetting from November 14 to November 18.

By the time the court stopped the vetting of the nominees on November 15, about 22 of them had been vetted by their respective committees on the second day of vetting.

Yesterday, Mr Ichung’wah said the decision by the Speaker to halt the vetting in compliance with the court is in line with Kenya Kwanza’s undertaking to respect the decisions of the court, whether they agree with them or not.

“The Speaker had all the powers to rule otherwise but chose to abide by the order of the court,” said Mr Ichung’wah.

If the House approves the nomination of the PSs, it will transmit their names to the President for formal appointment by way of a gazette notice, paving the way for their swearing-in.

The LSK argued in its petition in court that the list of 51 PS nominees presented to the National Assembly for vetting did not depict the national representation that includes the youth, persons with disabilities, the marginalised and gender balance.

Justice Makau certified the case urgent and directed that the vetting in the National Assembly be halted.