What you need to know:
- The President is set to address the joint sitting of both Houses this afternoon, after which the formation of the committees will begin.
- In 2020, lawmakers changed the law on the vetting days of Cabinet secretaries from the initial 14 to 28 days.
- This would delay the plan by the President to settle down with his team and start executing his agenda.
The nominees to President William Ruto’s Cabinet will have to wait longer before they take up their new jobs because the National Assembly has yet to constitute the committees that will vet them.
The President is set to address the joint sitting of both Houses this afternoon, after which the formation of the committees will begin.
Both Kenya Kwanza and Azimio have asked their members to submit names. Azimio told its members to submit at least four of their preferred committees by Friday last week for consideration by the leadership before the week ends.
Even if MPs hold a sitting today, Dr Ruto will still have to wait further as, in 2020, lawmakers changed the law on the vetting days of Cabinet secretaries from the initial 14 to 28 days.
This would delay the plan by the President to settle down with his team and start executing his agenda, which includes housing, health, manufacturing, and agriculture, as well as start delivering on his promises.
The Azimio team has warned that it will not approve a Cabinet full of individuals who lack integrity.
Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, who is also the ODM secretary general, yesterday told the Nation that the coalition is ready to be a vibrant opposition and will pay keen attention to the competence of the nominees.
“We, of course, will participate in the vetting of the Cabinet. We cannot abdicate the mandate we have from the people to ensure they get a government that will address our biggest concerns of lowering the cost of living, solving unemployment, and tackling corruption,” he said.
“We will, therefore, look at integrity and competence. If our colleagues in the National Assembly stay true to their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, more than half of those criminals proposed should not make it to the Cabinet.”
The President is expected to forward the names to Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang’ula, who will then pass it on to the Committee on Appointments.
The lawmakers increased the vetting notice period to allow the public to submit views and to give the committee time to write its report.
The 21-member committee is chaired by the Speaker and includes Majority and Minority leaders, as well as whips.
The Standing Orders dictate that each committee undergo an induction process, and this could further delay the vetting.
Nominated MP Joseph Wainaina, an ally of Dr Ruto, told the Nation that MPs are ready to approve the names as soon as possible. “We are ready to pass the President’s Cabinet. What he will tell us is what we will do without any question.”
But Jubilee secretary general Jeremiah Kioni and Saboti MP Caleb Amisi said Azimio will ensure individuals with court cases do not hold any Cabinet slot, arguing the parties campaigned to tackle graft.
They added that the opposition will also look at educational qualifications.
Mr Kioni said the opposition will ensure individuals with court cases do not hold any Cabinet slot, arguing that the parties campaigned to tackle corruption.
Mr Amisi threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against the unsuitable candidates if they are approved through canvassing.
“If they manage to go through in the usual way of canvassing, we shall impeach them in less than a month,” said the MP.
Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi said as long as the elected politicians on the list resign from Parliament, they will be fit to hold Cabinet office.
“The Constitution draws a line, that an MP cannot be a Cabinet secretary. Therefore, as long as they resign as members of Parliament, they qualify,” said the lawyer.
A proposal by MPs to have representatives of the investigative agencies – the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission – and representatives from the Higher Education Loans Board and the Kenya Revenue Authority present during vetting in order to give more information about the nominees was also not considered by the 12th Parliament.
Narok Senator Ledama Olekina urged his colleagues in the National Assembly to vigorously vet the nominees.
“You need to vet the nominees seriously against Chapter 6 as well as competency… it’s a paradigm shift from technocrats to politicians … What does this mean to the corporate world and economic recovery of a nation wallowing in debt?” he asked.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa dismissed the concerns, saying a balance between technocrats and politicians was not as important as getting individuals who will push the President’s agenda.
He said the principal secretaries will be technocrats who will implement key policies drafted by the Cabinet.
“Getting individuals with the requisite skills to advance the President's agenda is what is important. After all, technocrats will be PSs because they are the policy implementers while CSs are the designers of those policies after interacting with Kenyans from different parts of the country,” said Mr Barasa.
The Cabinet is expected to give government policy direction, discussing and approving proposals before implementation.
However, Mr Mkangi argued that the President can make promises like allocating Sh3 billion to the Judiciary without the approval of the Cabinet, noting that Cabinet secretaries serve at the pleasure of the Head of State.
“Those are some of the paradoxical issues. The Cabinet echoes or reflects the President’s policies or agenda. The Cabinet is not a clearing house, but just plays an advisory role,” the lawyer said.
According to Article 152 (1), the Cabinet includes the President, the Deputy President, the Attorney-General, and not fewer than 14 and not more than 22 Cabinet secretaries.
Additional reporting by Samwel Owino.