Vetting comes with legal duty both for appointees and panels

Rashid Echesa during his vetting by the National Assembly Committee on Appointment on February 9, 2018 after being appointed as the Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary. He was sacked last week. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • We have been thrown into the cesspool of corruption by fraudulent and inefficient people forced on us through circumvention of due diligence.

  • Yet again, the rule of law has got a battering and we just don’t seem to get its true meaning.

  • Legal duty bestows legal responsibility on those who sit in the panel or are appointed to do the right thing.

President Kenyatta has, no doubt, been left between a rock and a deep blue sea on appointments, particularly of Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries.

This is because he let himself become the victim of machinations by people with vested interests — be it tribe, business or politics. Lamenting at roadside barazas would not solve the issue.

OLD HABITS

If he has problems within his government, the President can always brutally prune or rebuild a new team from scratch. That will send a strong signal to the incoming team that he can cut deep when it comes to corruption.

Appointment of politicians to the Cabinet were strongly objected to across the board both in 2013 and 2017. First, it was against the Constitution. Secondly, it undermined the notion of public participation, a constitutional right.

Thirdly, it showed little regard for due process, given that some of the nominees were still appointed despite integrity concerns having been raised against them.

It is disingenuous to lament about a junior you were forewarned about. If you appoint a politician to the Cabinet, he won’t stop politicking; that is his alma mater. A thief won’t stop stealing; he is a born fiddler. Old habits die hard.

This is not a personal attack on the President. We love you, really, but if you cannot side track people in this Digital Age and expect them not to notice.

BLIND EYE

Citizens can, with one swipe on their tablet or smartphone, hang out an appointee to dry with genuine claims to match. Going against the digitally inspired citizens, with millennials leading the pack, is like raging against a tsunami with a sisal mesh.

These frustrations could have been abated had due process taken its natural course at the nomination stage. When appointees are made to sit through vetting as a formality, then it is hypocritical to turn around and say they are ineffective.

They were planted wherever they were by hook or crook. The integrity rules in Chapter Six of the Constitution were thrown out of the window and replaced with nepotism, tribalism and cronyism.

However, the vetting panels take the largest portion of blame on failures in the appointment of State officers. They have a legal duty both to the President and to the citizens. They fail in their duty when they stand by a person with questionable character because they want to hypocritically appease the President even though he never asked for such favours.

Alternatively, they turn a blind eye to demeanour since they want one of their own in a post for their benefit and not for public interest. The casual manner in which the panels do their work has left us at the mercy of inept individuals, who should never have made it to the short list.

INDEFENSIBLE

If the panels understood their legal mandate and advised the President correctly on some of the rogue appointees, we would not be in this quagmire. The appointments that were rescinded only happened because hawk-eyed citizens went up in arms against them.

The panels put the President in an awkward position of having to defend the indefensible. Sooner or later, we may have to take the vetting panels to task for failing us by misrepresenting facts. Misrepresentation is a criminal offence and I fail to see why the vetting panels should get away with it.

Moving the failed individuals to so-called ‘soft landings’ does little in instilling confidence in the public that corruption and inefficiency are being fought. The problems are only transferred elsewhere.

The President should know that it is fine not to rubber-stamp tribal appointments or vote-harnessing individuals. If they are not credible, however skilled, they are not worth the risk. If the purpose of appointing public servants is to serve the public, then Chapter Six must be strictly adhered to from start to finish.

The best panel is the public. We know our people better down here at the grassroots. If they failed at home, they will also fail out there.

CESSPOOL

We have been thrown into the cesspool of corruption by fraudulent and inefficient people forced on us through circumvention of due diligence. Yet again, the rule of law has got a battering and we just don’t seem to get its true meaning. It simply means doing things in accordance with the law.

Playing politics is one thing; playing disingenuous games in the name of politics is another thing altogether and ruins lives. Legal duty bestows legal responsibility on those who sit in the panel or are appointed to do the right thing.

Vetting panels must be composed of people with a great sense of credibility, to make honest decisions. Corruption will not just end with the use of a magic wand or juju. However, making sure there are right people appointed to the right jobs will have the desired positive effect in the war on graft.

The alternative is empty coffers and phantom dams.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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