, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – The Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Thursday called for a repeat of the process of appointing the chairperson of the Gender Commission, after it emerged that highly qualified individuals had been locked out of the post due to their ethnic background.
CIOC chairman Abdikadir Mohammed told Capital News that the process through which Winfred Lichuma was appointed to head the gender commission was faulty, as it rejected persons who were best suited for the position.
He noted that Maria Nzomo had been disqualified over factually incorrect information, with the selection panel together with Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, saying that she comes from central Kenya and should therefore not be appointed chairperson.
Nzomo emerged top in the interview while Lichuma was fourth. The matter is however currently before the High Court awaiting determination.
“How do you operationalise the requirements for gender, ethnic and regional balance in a fair, objective manner so that people are not left feeling like they are holding the wrong end of the stick?” Mohammed asked.
Last month, the CIOC asked for an audit of all the constitutional appointments made so far but Mohammed said that his committee was yet to receive the comprehensive list.
He also argued that interviewees should be allowed to state their ethnicity rather than have a selection panel determine it for them.
“It’s really a matter of dignity and identity; no selection panel should determine anyone’s identity. Who decides where one comes from especially for our women folk where you find the husband is from region X but the parents from Y?” he posed.
He also reiterated his committee’s objections to the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill arguing that there should have been a consensus between the Executive and Legislature before it was published.
He argued that the law should not be opened up to convenience amendments as it risked derailing the gains of the Constitution.
Mohammed further discounted arguments that an August election would interfere with the budget cycle saying that the Constitution should not be amended to fit the cycle.
“The Constitution is the basic law; everything else should get organised around it. In fact the supremacy clause says that anything that is against the Constitution is null and void,” he quipped.
The CIOC wants a December poll for the forthcoming elections but not for the subsequent ones.
The Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to alter provisions touching on gender, the election date and the 80 new boundaries but Mohammed maintained that the gender concerns were the only ones that held merit for an amendment.
“The issue on the 80 new constituencies does not require any amendments as it has already been dealt with in the Constitution. The same thing applies to the bit on elections. We only need to clarify issues on gender which we can do through a Miscellaneous Amendments Bill,” he said.
He further expressed confidence that the Bill will be rejected by MPs if it made it to the debate stage.
House Speaker Kenneth Marende is yet to issue a ruling whether or not the Bill should be introduced to the House.