MPs seek to control Cabinet size

May 14, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, May 14 – Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday passed a motion seeking to allow members to limit the size of the Cabinet in future governments.

Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro, who moved the motion, urged the House to support it and clarified that it would not affect the current government structure.

He said if the law had been put in place earlier, the scramble for cabinet positions in the Grand Coalition Government would not have been witnessed.

“The President and the Prime Minister can in future tell their supporters, look our hands are tied, we only have this number of cabinet positions,” he said.

Kisumu West MP John Olago, who seconded the motion, said the government could tow the line with other countries and operate with only 13 ministers.

The MPs said past governments had failed to give efficient and competitive Cabinets and instead appointed bloated ones to serve individual interests.

Ethuro’s motion was supported and unanimously passed by back benchers as well as by Cabinet Ministers who said there was need to have consistent ministries.

He also said only clean MPs who have never been mentioned in corruption cases should be appointed to the Cabinet.

Assistant Ministers Joseph Nkaissery, Peter Munya and Danson Mungatana said an ideal Cabinet should be lean, clean and be of service to Kenyans.

Munya said Parliament needs to come up with criteria that should be used to appoint durable and relevant ministries, so that they maintain permanency and consistency.

“You can’t build on institutional memory without permanency. In Kenya there is no consistency in ministries, they move according to the politics of the day,” he observed.

The MPs also noted that a bloated Cabinet is expensive and a bother to tax-payers.

Currently there are 42 ministries following the implementation of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act early last month that effected a power sharing deal.

Constitutional Affairs Assistant Minister William Cheptumo also supported the motion and blamed Parliament for failing to move fast to legislate on the matter.

Meanwhile, Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo moved a motion seeking to introduce a Bill to amend the Kenya Communications Act 1998 to make it mandatory for mobile phone subscribers to register with the service providers.

He said mobile phones were used to spread hate messages via the Short Message Services (SMS) and if users were registered there would be a restriction of dangerous SMSs.

Still in Parliament, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni asked for a ministerial statement from the Ministry of State, seeking to approve the formation of a 15-member committee to investigate illegal groups in the country.

Kioni said the country has several unlawful organised groupings that have been involved in the destruction of life, property and livelihoods.

He alleged that the government had been unsuccessful in cracking down on such groupings and thence the need for further investigations.

The MP said a select committee should be mandated to investigate the membership of the illegal groups, their structure, operations and the underlying causes for their proliferation.

He said the committee would then give its findings to the House within eight months.


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