Senators raise alarm over ‘militarization’ of public institutions
Senators have raised an alarm over what they have termed as a militarization of public institutions by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
They have accused President Kenyatta of using an old trick that “fraudsters” have used over the years to disinherit wealth belonging to the public.
They were reacting to the deployment of the cash strapped Kenya Meat Commission from the Ministry of Agriculture's Livestock Department to the Defense Ministry.
A few days ago, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya directed the transfer saying the President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered so.
“Following the transfer of ministerial responsibility of the Kenya Meat Commission to the Ministry of Defence by the President, you are directed to facilitate a seamless transfer of KMC to the ministry of defence,” CS Munya said in a memo dated September 7.
However, Senators have come out guns blazing saying the President’s use of Executive Orders and Gazettements have become the order of the day in a series of moves that purportedly indicate his trust and hope in the military to manage some sections of the civil service.
The lawmakers want full disclosure be made on the decisions that informed the transfer of functions of KMC to the Ministry of Defence.
Led by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo, they said serious consultation ought to have been done in the transfer of KMC to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).
Ms Dullo noted public participation should have been done, and also a way forward as far as those who depend on the KMC especially the pastoralists.
“I know that we have been having a lot of challenges as far as management of KMC is concerned, but for the pastoralists, especially those who rely on the KMC, it is important,” She said.
“This is because when people see KDF, most of our people, including most Kenyans, get scared. Because they do not know what is involved. Some of us live in the counties where KDF is claiming land from,” Dullo, who is also the Isiolo Senator.
“If KMC is handed over to KDF, it means that our land issues will be in jeopardy. It is important for the Committee that is relevant to this matter to properly investigate the handing over of KMC to KDF,” she opined.
Mandera Senator Mohamed Mahamud lamented that instead of the government funding KMC, it has now transferred it to the Ministry of Defence.
“I do not understand how a parastatal gets transferred to our military. The idea of militarizing our institutions should stop. Even if it was done, there must be proper public participation,” Mahamud noted.
He added: “We know that the KMC was not functioning properly because there was a funding problem. It should have been commercialized and given to the private sector to run”.
For many years, the senator said that there has been the debate. For instance, when the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) came to power in 2003, they decided to open and fund it.
“However, they did not allocate funds to it. Instead of commercializing and making it a private entity, where the private sector can run it properly, we hand it over to the military,” the Senator observed.
“It is now going to be a military institution. I do not know how farmers will deliver their animals there because it will be a guarded area. I think a proper procedure must be followed so that Kenyans understand how this transfer is done and how it will function,” He held.
Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina said the best thing that the Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki could have advised the President is to go back to Parliament and then discuss on how to set up an Act of Parliament that can transfer a devolved function.
“This is because livestock and agriculture were devolved to the county governments. For instance, Senator Mary Seneta has brought several Statements in this House asking when farmers will be paid for the meat that was supplied to the KMC,” Ole Kina said.
He criticised the transfer saying KDF is one of the biggest consumer and liabilities to the KMC with a debt of sh 7 billion has never paid.
“It shocks me that in this country now, when there is a problem, you do not create a solution, but deepen the problem. If the KDF owes KMC Kshs7 billion and now you have transferred that to them, are you telling us that you will write off that debt? He asked.
“If you have the KMC under the Ministry of Defence, how will the people from Isiolo and Narok deliver meat to KMC in a military zone? He continued saying the military area is always protected.
But in support of the President's action, Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji said it was quite in order to save the country since all the livestock is going to Dagoretti Slaughter House instead of KMC where it could fetch better prices.
“I support the decision of the President and the Government to transfer KMC to the military. Major General Badi has proven his ability here in Nairobi,” Haji noted.
According to him, Nairobi is cleaner and safer than it was because of the discipline of the military officer.
“I read in the newspaper about the support of the Chairman of the North Eastern Livestock organization, Mr. Juba Ali Aane; that the Government has done well to take control of the KMC,” he said.
Kitui senator Enock Wambua said the decision to transfer the functions of an institution established in the Ministry by an Act of Parliament through an Executive Order sets a bad precedent.
“The KMC is an institution that deals with livestock, which falls under agriculture that is a fully devolved function. Therefore, this Senate must make certain demands before this order is finalized,”
“It would be important for this Senate to demand that the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives appears before this Senate before he does the final handover of the functions of the KMC to the Ministry of Defence,” he said.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said the past regimes increasingly used the kind of games being played on government parastatals by the Jubilee administration.
Citing, the Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC), which he said is so well known, he argued; "deny them (parastatals ) funds and good leadership, then after, they have collapsed, you buy them at throwaway prices".
“It is an old tactic that this Parliament must stand up against. We cannot do these kinds of transfers of public institutions without referring to Parliament. It is a provision under the law and there is a good reason for that".
“The good reason is because Parliament checks on the excesses of the Judiciary and the Executive because as representatives of the people, we are checked directly by the people.” He added.