Government alters rule on travel

February 22, 2013 1:44 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Attorney General Githu Muigai is to formulate guidelines for international travel for heads of constitutional commissions and independent office holders.

Muigai who spoke after meeting the heads of constitutional commissions and independent offices said that the framework will ensure that they only notify the government of their travel.

“There have been considerations by both sides; the chairmen and independent office holders have been anxious that we agree on what is feasible, workable and legal and I am happy that we have arrived at a consensus without acrimony and rancour. I hope that this will put an end to the matter,” Muigai said after the Friday morning meeting.

Under the policy, the commission chairmen will only notify their Cabinet office when travelling out while the chairmen will be charged with clearing their commissioners and members of staff who are travelling out of the country.

The policy is expected to remove immigration officials at the airports from the chain of those who are to be notified.

“What we have agreed is that there will be nobody to clear chairmen of commissions who have constitutional functions from leaving or entering the country; it will be their own choice,” he asserted.

The chairman of the Commission on Administrative Justice Otiende Amollo who spoke on behalf of the other heads said that it will be vital that the policy is implemented with consultation.

“While there is no constitutional basis to have us to seek clearance before we travel, there is nevertheless a policy need that as State offices, the Head of State and the government is aware of where such commissioners might be at any time,” he said.

On Thursday, the chairpersons of constitutional commissions and independent office holders had written to head of Public Service Francis Kimemia asking him to withdraw the circular requiring them to be cleared before travelling.

“We hold a collective position that the directive was not well founded in law and would interfere with the functions of these institutions and offices,” the CAJ chairman said.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga kicked off the debate over clearance on Wednesday saying an immigration official tried to bar him from travelling to Dar-es-Salaam since he did not have clearance from civil service chief Francis Kimemia.

When he exposed the saga on the CJ said: “The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary received a purported ‘clearance to travel’ letter by Mr Kimemia dated February 14, stating it has been noted the Chief Justice is travelling to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.”

Capital FM News is in possession of the two circulars on clearance of public servants for overseas travel.

Whereas both make reference to Holders of Independent Offices as among those required to seek clearance, one of the circulars has scribbling on the side with a pen saying, “exclude the CJ and the Speaker.”

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