Haggling that led to Malonza chop amid split

Peninah Malonza

Cabinet Secretary nominee for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Peninah Malonza.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Intense deliberations that went up to midnight on Monday in the committee vetting President William Ruto’s Cabinet nominees led to the dropping of an applicant and a dissenting report on two others.

The Nation has learnt that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party MPs said they should not be used as mere rubber stamps for the executive and insisted that four nominees should be dropped to redeem the image of Parliament.

But a majority Kenya Kwanza Alliance lawmakers only agreed to one, with the axe falling on Ms Peninah Malonza, the former Kitui deputy governor who was nominated for the Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage docket. 

The 24-member committee rejected the nomination of Ms Malonza, saying she lacked knowledge on issues touching on the ministry.

Sources in the committee confided to the Nation that, by 7pm on Monday, parliamentary technical staff had already finalised the report and all that remained was for the members to endorse its contents, after deliberations that began immediately the vetting ended on Saturday.

The committee retreated to a hotel on Mombasa Road in Nairobi on Sunday and started the process around 11am, while the technical staff were in the hotel as early as 8am to set the ground for the members.

It is then that intense deliberations began, with Azimio MPs insisting that the four nominees, including Ms Malonza, should be rejected by the committee. 

However, the majority argued that some of those targeted had already cleared their names with the relevant authorities and presented documents during vetting.

Besides Ms Malonza, Azimio wanted former Meru Senator Mithika Linturi (Agriculture and Livestock Development), Prof Njuguna Ndung’u (Treasury and Planning) and former Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa (Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action) rejected.

Sources told the Nation that MPs from the Kenya Kwanza side argued that it would paint the government negatively if all the four nominees were dropped.

They argued that Prof Ndung’u’s matter — on his handling of the De La Rue money printing tender and the Grand Regency Hotel sale — Azimio was complaining about what the courts had already decided. 

Corruption scandal

They also felt that the same was the case for Mr Davis Chirchir (Energy and Petroleum) that Azimio was also targeting due to the ‘Chickengate’ scandal. Mr Chirchir had defended himself, saying, he was never charged over the corruption scandal.

The lawmakers argued that Mr Chirchir had presented a report from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to prove his innocence. They argued that it would be unfair to drop him based on that.

On Ms Jumwa, the minority report said she has an ongoing murder case.

“Due to the gravity of the active criminal case against the Hon Jumwa, the integrity questions it raises, and the unsatisfactory answers provided, we find her unsuitable to hold public office and duly reject her nomination to the Cabinet,” reads the report.

On Mr Linturi, the minority listed three grounds, which should be used to reject his nomination. The grounds are questionable academic qualifications including an Indian university degree that could not be traced, attempted rape charges and forgery in securing two loans of Sh530 million and Sh100 million.

On Mr Linturi and Ms Jumwa, our source told the Nation that the Kenya Kwanza side argued that ongoing cases against the two nominees have not been determined and the committee cannot pass judgment akin to declaring them guilty by rejecting them. However, the Azimio side insisted they should step aside until the cases are determined.

At that point, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, who chairs the committee, advised that those who were not in agreement were within their right provided for under the Standing Order to have a minority report.

The House can adopt the committee’s report in its totality or with some amendments, but it can also reject it outright.