After two sessions of heated debate, Parliament voted against a report by the Committee on Legal Affairs that had rejected Matemu and two other commissioners saying they lacked passion.
50 MPs voted down the report, meaning they approved the nominees, against 49 MPs who sided with the Legal Affairs Committee. There were two abstentions
The vote was a culmination of heated debate where MPs mainly concentrated on arguments for or against Mumo Matemu’s suitability to head the war against corruption.
Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said the debate had been turned into a tribal campaign instead of focusing on suitability of candidates.
“It’s an opportunity to tell the tribalists that your time is up!” he said.
On her part, nominated MP Millie Odhiambo objected to Matemu’s nomination, saying he was the highest ranked candidate.
“If the Principals want to be serious, and jump number one and go to number four (ranked candidate) there must be a constitutional reason to do so. Otherwise I will ask Okong’o Omogeni to go to court and challenge this appointment,” she argued.
Omogeni had been the highest ranked candidate among those who had been forwarded to the President and Prime Minister by the interviewing panel.
The names of the Matemu alongside Jane Kerubo Onsongo and Irene Cheptoo Keino are now to be forwarded to President Kibaki for formal appointment.
Matemu who will spearhead the agency charged with fighting corruption however, had to overcome allegations of impropriety during his term as commissioner at the Kenya Revenue Authority and sailed through Parliament after a heated debate that saw an MP ejected from the proceedings.
The House had to extend its sittings on Tuesday to facilitate the vote.
The House committee had recommended for the trio’s rejection due to what they termed as ‘lack of drive, passion and interest to chair the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.’
In closing submission to the House, Committee Vice Chairman Njoroge Baiya (Githunguri) stated that; “The rejection of this report will be unfortunate and will be the real test as to whether this House has the will to fight corruption. The worst thing that this Parliament can do is to show that its objective is not to fight corruption but other considerations.”
Even the allegations that he had failed to collect Sh2.4 billion in taxes did not stop the Executive from rallying MPs to support Matemu.
Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central) told his colleagues in the House that Matemu was at the heart of the clique that ran down the Agricultural Finance Corporation through collusion with shady businessmen.
Imanyara said the businessmen of Asian descent would apply for loans of between Sh18 million and Sh24 million from the AFC, and then, all these loans would be written off. He said the loans amounted to over Sh5 billion.