Return of CASs? Anxiety as House team proposes posts capped at 22


National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara (right) and his vice chair Mwengi Mutuse during the Justice & Legal committee meeting in 2022.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

A Parliamentary committee has approved the creation of the position of chief administrative secretary (CAS), but capped the number at 22, spelling doom for more than 50 politicians whose appointments were nullified by the courts.

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, in its report on consideration of the National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, has also approved increasing the number of representatives of the president-elect in the Assumption of the Office of President team.

But the committee chaired by George Murugara (Tharaka) rejected a proposal to take away the role of the Attorney-General as the custodian of the Public Seal, and transfer it to the Head of Public Service.

In the report already tabled in the National Assembly, the committee noted that CAS positions are necessary but have to be assigned clear roles and designation to avoid potential conflict with principal secretaries (PSs).

“In addition, the complement of the CAS must be clearly stated to accord with Article 152 of the constitution, which limits the number of Cabinet secretaries (CSs),” it states. Article 152 (1) of the constitution provides for “not fewer than 14 and not more than 22 Cabinet secretaries”.

President Ruto had nominated a total of 50 CASs before the courts declared the position unconstitutional. The capping of the positions implies that President Ruto will have to knock off some of the names from the list should the Bill be passed. Some of the rejected CASs have since been handed other roles, including Isaac Mwaura who was appointed government spokesperson.

In the minority’s report, however, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo opposed creation of the position, arguing that the functions ascribed to the office are a duplication of those already assigned to the CSs and PSs. 

“... Kenyans intended to do away with the position of Assistant Minister ... thus, the proposals offend the spirit of the constitution of Kenya and the will of the Kenyan people,” states the report.

The team also rejected a proposal to establish and anchor in law the position of National Security Advisor. Opposition leader Raila Odinga is among those who had opposed the proposal, terming it illegal.

“The committee observed that the addition of the National Security Advisor was not necessary. This is because the position of the National Advisor is not established in any law and an advisor is and should remain a personal staff of the President… anchoring it in law would take the discretion given to the President,” states the report.

On the transfer of the Public Seal, the committee observed that there was no satisfactory justification. It argued that the AG remains the principal legal advisor to the government and should remain the custodian.

The proposal to take away the mandate from the AG’s office was seen as an attempt to clip the powers of current AG Justin Muturi. The Bill was sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader.