Top politicians get lifeline for Cabinet appointments

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 10:45 |
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni. Photo/PD/FILE

Top politicians, including governors serving their second and final term, will get a lifeline if a Bill seeking to empower the President to appoint Cabinet Secretaries from elected Members of Parliament is approved.

If passed, the Bill will allow such politi-cians to vie for parliamentary seats and, if successful, will be contenders for Cabinet positions.

The object of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, to be tabled before the National Assembly today, is to amend the law to allow the President to appoint MPs to the Cabinet.It further seeks to empower the President to assign the Attorney-General duties of a Cabinet Secretary.

Members of the County Assembly can also serve as county minister should the Bill get Parliament’s nod.“The Bill seeks to amend Article 179 of the Constitution to allow a county gover-nor to appoint members of the County Assembly as members of his or her county executive committee and to make members of the county executive committees accountable to the people through the County Assembly,” says the document.

It is sponsored by the chairman of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) Jeremiah Kioni, and is scheduled for the First Reading this afternoon.Yesterday, Kioni said an amendment would be made to the Bill to allow presidential candidates and their running mates who lose in elections to be nominated to the National Assembly.

The new amendment seeks to have the losing presidential candidates included in their respective party lists and be given first priority in nomination to the National Assembly.

Kioni told the People Daily that the Bill is in line with the proposals made in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which also seek to have MPs picked to sit in the Cabinet.

“The Bill does not contradict the BBI proposals, in fact it is supporting what is being offered in terms of changes in the Legislature,” Kioni said.

He said his committee also found it wise to have individuals who lose in the presidential contest given another chance to serve.

“By having unsuccessful presidential candidates and their running mates nominated to Parliament, it will help in tapping their vast experience in leader-ship or any other field,” Kioni explained.

The current Constitution does not provide for the President to appoint MPs to the Cabinet.

However, in a situation where he decides to pick an MP, the in-dividual must first resign from the parliamentary seat before the appointment.

Appointed to cabinet

Former Kericho Senator Charles Keter was the first MP to resign from the position after he was appointed to the Cabinet by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Among governors who could benefit from the proposed law are those whose terms come to an end in 2022 but have intentions to serve in other capacities.

They include Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Sos-peter Ojamoong (Busia), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) and Kilifi’s Amason Kingi.

Others are Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Josephat Nanok (Turkana), James Ongwae of Kisii), Mandera’s Ali Roba, Jackson Mandago (Uashin Gishu), Narok’s Samuel Tunai and Paul Chepkwony of Kericho.

The fact that the President will pick some Cabinet ministers from the National Assembly is probably the other reason why many key politicians will be inclined to contest parliamentary seats.

Those aspiring for those positions would have to retreat to their constituencies to seek parliamentary seats.A Political Science lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Dr Oscar Otele, argued that the proposals are calculated to give some politicians an avenue to reinvent themselves.

“Take the case of second term gover-nors like Joho and Oparanya, where are they going to go? They will be attracted to ministerial positions which give them a national outlook and control of more re-sources than they used to in counties,” he told People Daily.

Otele observed that the appointment of ministers from parliament would give citizens a greater opportunity for over-sight and accountability since they will be electing the ministers.

Prof Macharia Munene, a lecturer at the United States International University (USIU) says the proposed Bill only seeks to give big jobs to governors and other interested politicians.

“It is a welcome move, governors who think they are popular enough will just snatch one of the constituencies as a ve-hicle to parliament after which one can lobby for a cabinet position,” said Prof Munene.

A political analyst Philip Kamau says the proposed Bill gives Kenyans an op-portunity to have ministers who are ac-countable to them.“Ministers appointed from Parliament will be more accountable to the electorates and not the appointing authority.

This will help in terms of the minister’s performance both in Parliament and out-side,” said Kamau.

Nyamira Senator Okong’o O’Mogeni said the National Assembly will be a ma-jor attraction because it will be the only route to ministerial posittions as proposed in the Kioni Bill.

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