Ombudsman to vet aspirants who previously served in government

Florence Kajuju
Photo credit: Steve Njuguna

The Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman) is considering vetting former public servants who have expressed their interest in vying for various political seats ahead of the August General Election.

Chairperson Florence Kajuju said the move is aimed at ensuring that only those with ‘clean’ records and competent individuals are elected to hold public office.

She said that the first mandate of the office of the Ombudsman is to tackle maladministration in the public sector and has the power to investigate complaints about delays, abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or discourtesy in the public service.

The Ombudsman, Ms Kajuju said, will work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and other relevant authorities in vetting and clearing the aspirants.

“The commission has the legal capacity and mandate to take former public servants eyeing political offices through a vetting process and verify their credibility to run for offices in the nearing elections,” she said in Nyahururu when she opened a new regional Ombudsman office.

“As a commission with the said mandates, we will work hand in hand with institutions such as the IEBC and EACC to coordinate the issuance of certificates of clearance to them before their names are added to the ballot papers.”

The commission’s regional branch office will serve residents from the neighbouring counties of Laikipia, Baringo, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Samburu and Nakuru.

Ms Kajuju noted that setting up the office in Laikipia would decentralise the commission’s services to the lowest levels of governance.

“This office will now help members of the public seek and get justice, especially where it appears that they were not accessing crucial government services or were being asked to pay a bribe before accessing service,” she added.

The commission, she said, has five other regional branches in Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Isiolo towns that offer services to the public at no fee.   

Nyahururu High Court Presiding Judge Charles Kariuki noted that this will help reduce the backlog of cases in the courts.

He said that cases of land disputes, murder and sexual offences were rampant in the region and have overwhelmed the court that also has to deal with other matters.

“The Office of the Ombudsman will play a very important role to this community and with better awareness of alternative ways to seek justice. The court process can be very costly and time-consuming, meaning that justice can be (provided) to everyone regardless of their economic status.

Laikipia County acting Public Administration executive Rose Maitai said the office will help in investigating and addressing maladministration and violation of rights by public officers.