NAIROBI, Kenya May 22 – The government on Tuesday asked for more time to explain the controversial appointment of the 47 County Commissioners.
A meeting between the Ministries of Constitutional Affairs, Internal Security, the Attorney General and the Parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) failed to kick off after Cabinet Minister Eugene Wamalwa asked to be given time to consult within the Cabinet on the issue.
The committee was expected to hold a joint meeting with Wamalwa and his cabinet colleagues George Saitoti of Internal Security and Attorney General Githu Muigai.
Wamalwa who was accompanied to the sitting by Acting Constitutional Affairs PS Gichira Kibara and Senior Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani told the committee that the matter was cross cutting and would have to consult other ministers before presenting a comprehensive statement on the legality of the appointments.
But MPs Martha Karua (Gichugu MP), John Mbadi (Gwassi MP), Mille Odhiambo (Nominated MP) and Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaiserry (Kajiado Central MP) called for the government to suspend the deployment of the commissioners as a sign of good faith.
Karua said: “I think we are giving too easily to their request. We need to know if the more time is meant to complete the deployment of the 47 County Commissioners or if it would amount to the suspension of the appointments.
There was uproar in Parliament last week after MPs faulted Saitoti’s assertions that the appointments were legal. The MPs called for its revocation and a strict adherence to the law in picking the commissioners.
“I don’t think you need time for consultation because you must have consulted before you picked them. What this committee is trying to do is to kill impunity in this country. You appointed these gentlemen and ladies without applying the law,” said Nkaiserry.
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo (Dagoretti MP) and Higher Education Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria (Tigania West) supported Wamalwa’s request stating that the matter had been politicised yet it was in line with the Executive’s administrative function.
Mugo stated: “I don’t know why there is so much hue and cry over the appointments. We in the Ministry of Public Health are going to do the same thing. An agreement on the way forward is very important for everybody. Also this being an administrative exercise, I believe it is in the hands of the Executive.”
Karua retorted with an answer reminding the Executive that “I think we are failing to differentiate that the provincial administration is the only department that got a mention in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, because it needs to be restructured.”
She added that this had been to be guided by legislation.
Wamalwa said he needed to understand the spirit in which the appointments were made since other ministries such as those of Education, Lands and Health had already posted County Directors without any public outcry.
The CIOC chairman Abdikadir Mohammed agreed to the request for more time but cautioned that the Legislature will not tolerate any kind of mischief from the Executive.
“The hands of Parliament cannot be tied,” said Mohammed.
The ministers from Education, Medical Services, Public Health, Land, Constitutional Affairs, Internal Security and Provincial Administration as well as the AG were to meet on Wednesday to work out a comprehensive statement on the appointments.