, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 9 – The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo and his deputy Michael Mubea could be sent home if President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the EACC (Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed by the National Assembly on Thursday.
MPs voted 70 – 39 in support of the amendment proposed by Kiminini Member of Parliament Chris Wamalwa which sought to have the offices of Secretary and the Deputy Secretary become vacant upon the enactment of the Bill.
Wamalwa however stated that both Waqo and Mubea will not be required to leave office immediately but will continue serving in acting capacity pending the appointment of the substantive holders.
“If we mean to recruit new commissioners then we have no business with the ones who are there, so let them go and let’s have a new team, let us do a clean start,” said Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurwe-ini).
Leader of majority Aden Duale and Eldas MP Adan Keynan vehemently opposed the removal of the officers terming it a short term move which will create a vacuum at the Commission.
Duale argued by removing the duo, Parliament will be denying the officials a fundamental right by failing to give them a fair hearing as enshrined in the Constitution.
“For a public servant to be removed from office they must be given a fair and hearing,” said Duale.
Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria said the secretariat must remain for continuity in the office.
“If we remove the secretariat we will simply be crippling the Commission,” noted Gikaria.
The President can veto the Bill and refer it back to the National Assembly where two-thirds of the membership will be required to override the memorandum.
The MPs have further provided that the Commission will henceforth conduct its investigation in secret and only reveal the names of the suspect when preferring charges.
“If you allow the EACC to work away for the glare of the media there are consequences,” Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo stated as opposed the proposal.
Dave Ochieng (Ugenya) supported the proposal saying; “investigations by the EACC should be the business of the EACC and should only come out when they are sure.”
“It’s unfortunate that the media likes negative publicity but you are innocent until proven guilty and this will ensure that those people who face the EACC will have their rights protected,” Chris Omulele (Luanda) added.
MPs also approved the proposals by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to increase the number of commissioners from three to five. The commissioners will however work on part-time basis for a single term of six years and are not eligible for appointment.
In a break from the current practice, the House voted to allow the Public Service Commission (PSC) to handle the recruitment of the new commissioners as opposed to a selection panel drawn from independent commissions and professional bodies.
Currently the EACC Act, Commissioners provides that where a vacancy arises in the membership of the Commission the president will have 21 days constitute a selection panel for purposes of filling a vacancy.
The panel shall then shortlist three qualified applicants for each vacancy and forwards the qualified names to the president for appointment and to the national assembly for vetting.
The chairperson Mumo Matemu and vice chairperson Irene Keino resigned as chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Commission in April while Jane Onsongo, a member, resigned in March.
President Kenyatta last month constituted a nine-member panel to commence the replacement of EACC Commissioners who stepped down from office over allegations of gross misconduct.