Mayhem in Parliament over anti-graft nominees

December 15, 2011 4:48 pm
The debate will now continue next TuesdayFILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 15 – There was disorder in Parliament on Thursday as MPs debated the report by the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs that rejected proposed nominees to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale tabled documents from an anonymous witness who claimed that the nominee to chair the commission Mumo Matemu, had failed the integrity test during his tenure at the Kenya Revenue Authority, as he shielded a company from paying taxes.

Khalwale said Matemu cannot pass the integrity test as he shielded Kingsway Motors from paying taxes during his tenure at the KRA.

The debate split the House along the substance of the report, with some MPs claiming that those opposing its recommendations were a sign of corruption fighting back.

Tempers flared with Assistant Minister Ndiriitu Muriithi demanding that those contributing must declare their interest, even alluding that some members we part of a cover up plan.

Those who opposed the report wondered what drove the committee to their recommendations.

Assistant Minister Cecily Mbarire said that the one meeting that the committee held with the nominees was not enough to decide whether someone was “passionate” for a job.

In the first successful assignment by the hitherto wrangle-ridden justice committee in eight months, members vetted the individuals to sit on the ethics and anti corruption commission and submitted the report to Parliament rejecting all nominees.

Committee vice chairman Njoroge Baiya initiated debated on the report that rejected the nominees explaining that although all of them possessed exemplary academic credentials, they lacked “the passion” to fight graft.

Matemu had been nominated as chairperson while Professor Jane Onsongo and Irene Keino were nominated as commissioners.

MPs backing the report said rejecting it would set a bad precedence since committees represent the House when they meet to vet nominees on a one-to one-level.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa highlighted Section 6 of the Constitution which touches on issues of integrity, suitability and other issues which he said the committee had considered when they decided the suitability of the three nominees.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni wondered why the principals by-passed KRA commissioner John Njiraini who had been ranked first during the interviews.

He was backed by the committee members Mutava Musyimi and George Nyamweya who stood by their recommendations saying the principals must resubmit fresh names and attach the criteria for overlook the best candidate.

Those against the report said the term “passion” was not a constitutional requirement and it was unfair to deny people a job on the basis alone.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo was the first to poke holes in the committee’s report with Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang saying it was not possible to assess “passion” which the committee claimed the nominees lacked.

“Mr Speaker there is no passionometer with which we can measure how much someone is passionate for the job,” he said.

Mukuruweini MP and Sports Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando took on his colleagues who appeared to reject the report.

“Is it in order for some MPs to try and disrupt contribution, very shamelessly and blatantly show extreme sycophantic passion just because they want to protect charlatans and quislings?”

The debate was cut short after normal sitting time lapsed and will now continue next Tuesday.


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