NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Wednesday called for the establishment of a law that will oversee the overall management of the activities of the Government Printer to cut down on inconsistencies in its work.,
CIOC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said that the Government Printer was to blame for the discrepancies surrounding the publication dates of the crucial Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act and also the delay of its printing.
Mr Mohammed argued that it was unethical for the team, under Andrew Rukaria, to alter the publication dates as it interfered with the timelines for appointing the IEBC selection panel.
Although the Act was printed on July 18, its commencement date was backdated to July 5 giving the President and Prime Minister only one day to appoint the selection panel. The two principals however moved with speed in appointing the officers who are scheduled to begin their work on July 25.
“When you give it a date before the publication, what you are saying, which is not correct, is that it was operational before it was published. For example, today’s newspaper holds today’s date; it can’t bear a past date,” he explained.
Mr Rukaria, who had been summoned by the CIOC, admitted to the illegality but defended his office saying that the Attorney General (AG) directed that the Act be published on July 5, the same day it was assented.
However, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo rubbished the argument saying that the Government Printer could push the publication date of an Act when the need arose.
The Government Printer, who found himself in the hot seat, attempted to dodge questions fielded to him by the CIOC members choosing to answer them in ambiguity.
“Please tell the truth Mr Rukaria, because I really don’t have time for this wishy-washy. Did you consider it your function to tell the AG, as you have done with my office in the past, that you could not comply with his request?” asked Mr Kilonzo.
Mr Rukaria however maintained that he could not circumvent the AG’s directive.
When asked why he delayed the publication of the IEBC Act, Mr Rukaria admitted that his office did not prioritise it, as it had a backlog of tasks from government institutions, to undertake. He added that his office was under staffed and ill equipped to handle all the pending issues on time.
He explained that he was supposed to print driving licenses, immigration and passport documents, the report of the Auditor General as well as documents from NACADA (National Campaign Against Drug Abuse) in addition to printing various Bills.
“The IEBC Act was the last item on our schedule and it is regrettable that we didn’t put it first,” he said.
His admission landed him into more trouble with Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi MP), Martha Karua (Gichugu MP), Elizabeth Ongoro (Kasarani MP), Rachael Shebesh (nominated MP) and others accusing him of being lax in his duties.
The committee members further accused Mr Rukaria of being dishonest saying that they would expose his evasive attitude in their report before submitting it to Parliament for action.
“Mr Rukaria, I know you live in this town and I certainly know that you didn’t just land from Pluto so you knew the urgency and public furore surrounding this matter but you ignored it,” said Mr Namwamba.
Mr Rukaria has worked in the civil service for the past 20 years. He served as a District Officer as well as District Commissioner before landing the Government Printer’s job.
He was accompanied by the Head of the Proof Reading Section Paul Sang, the Administration Officer Benedict Munyoki and the Chief Human Resource Officer Josiah Njiru.