Judiciary, Executive tug of war bad for the nation
Article 1 of the Constitution declares that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with the Constitution. It also states that the people might choose to exercise the power directly or through their elected representatives.
The sovereign power is delegated to the three arms of government—the Parliament and county legislative assemblies; the Executive (national and county); and the Judiciary and independent constitutional tribunals.
The emphasis that the power is vested in the people is particularly significant as it reminds duty bearers in the three arms that their authority is not only delegated to them, but must also be exercised within the confines of the Constitution.
And although the supreme law is clear on the separation of powers between the three arms, they are essentially inter-dependent and exist to fulfill the same objective—serve the people of Kenya.
That is why Kenyans are disturbed by the tug of war between the Executive and Judiciary. At a press conference on Monday, Chief Justice David Maraga not only accused some forces in the Executive of plotting to unprocedurally remove him from office, but also of seeking to control the Judiciary by crippling it financially. The CJ lamented that the institution could be unable to conduct its functions following a decision by the National Treasury to cut its budget.
In what exposed the unfortunate cold war between the two institutions, the CJ accused the Executive of treating the Judiciary “contemptuously and as an illegitimate child”.
Although acting Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani has since downplayed Maraga’s concerns, it is not lost on Kenyans that there is an unhealthy fight, a sort of sibling rivalry, that could precipitate a crisis in service delivery if not arrested.
In such a case, Kenyans will be the losers. The situation at Judiciary where some services have been halted is a sad reminder to this effect.
That is why we welcome sentiments by the bi-partisan leadership of Parliament that the issues raised by the CJ be addressed. Particularly encouraging was the assurance by Yatani that cash set aside for law courts was intact.
While we hope the Judiciary woes would be resolved, we implore that key players in various arms of government to exercise restraint and mutual respect in management of public affairs.
They should talk to each other not at each other.