NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The parliamentary Committee on Appointments concluded vetting cabinet nominees on Saturday and is now expected to table a report in parliament on Tuesday.
Former Tourism Minister Najib Balala who is nominated to head the Mining docket was the last to appear before the vetting team at the Kenyatta International Conference where 15 other nominees had been vetted since Tuesday.
Balala was mainly taken to task to explain decisions he made while serving as Tourism Minister, arising from a protest affidavit filed by members of the public opposed to his new nomination.
MPs sitting in the vetting board also sought to know what informed Balala’s decision to transfer Utalii College acting principle to the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
The former Mvita MP told the MPs that Betty Makawiti who was acting principal at the college was transferred to KICC procedurally and not as a way of punishment.
“As a public servant if you want to make difference you will definitely upset some people and sometime they wait for a chance to hit you and this could be part of it, but again they have a right to present their views,” he told the MPs.
He also denied claims that he influenced the appointment of an employee to the Mombasa Utalii campus, which he described as government policy.
The former minister further clarified to the committee that no money was lost in the construction of a new branch of the Utalii College in Vipingo, when he sought to clarify that the alleged Sh43 million in question was only transferred to a new account of the new college.
Asked if he had already resigned his position as party leader of the Republican Congress Party, Balala said “Life is a progressive journey and has seasons and today my season is not being active in politically, my season is to serve the people of Kenya in the ministry and I will not bring politics in that sector.”
Balala said that his immediate plan for the new mining docket is to push for the enactment of a legislation that will among other things cure the problems of underhand dealings and political interference in the mining industry.
“I am experienced in different ministries in government; I have also been instrumental in the making of several bills, I will ensure that the ministry has a law on mining to address issues of professionalism in the sector,” the former minister said, adding “I will do a geophysical survey to know what is happening in regards to mining sector before I make important decisions.”
He was emphatic that he will seek to implement the policy requirement that 75 percent of proceeds realized from mining go to the government, 20 percent to the County governments and five percent to the local community.
The measure, he said, is aimed at ensuring that local communities benefit from their natural resources besides reducing poverty.