, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – Cabinet Secretaries who were to answer questions on the floor of Parliament will not, after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua wrote to the Clerk of National Assembly Justin Bundi notifying him of the change in position.
In the letter Kinyua explained that the decision was reached following concerns raised by the Attorney General, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Legal Affairs Office at the Presidency.
“As you are aware this matter has raised grave and weighty Constitutional issues with regard to the architecture of the State…I have been directed to inform you that this matter will be held in temporary abeyance until the deliberations are concluded,” he wrote.
Deliberations which he said were taking place, “at the highest levels of government,” and involved, “critical consultations,” with the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and Leader of the Majority Aden Duale.
“Consequently, Cabinet Secretaries will await further direction at the conclusion of the deliberations aforementioned,” Kinyua stated.
The CIC also made good on its threat to move to court over the matter and filed a petition in the High Court challenging the legality of the National Assembly’s amendment of its Standing Orders to allow Cabinet Secretaries on the floor of Parliament as was the case under the previous Constitution when they doubled up as Members of Parliament (MPs).
“The Constitution’s intention on the appearance of Cabinet Secretaries before Parliament is clearly articulated by the language of Article 153. It is that Cabinet Secretaries appear before “a Committee” of the House,” CIC Chairman Charles Nyache referenced.
Cabinet Secretaries themselves had expressed reservations on the demands that the proposed change in engagement would make on their time.
“My Interior and Foreign Affairs counterparts due to the nature of their portfolios are many times out of the country,” ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said at a breakfast meeting hosted by the MPs last month.
Speaking to Capital FM News however, Muturi said the Executive and Judiciary had no business dictating how the House conducted its affairs.
In August the National Assembly passed an amendment to its Standing Orders creating a General Oversight Committee that would comprise all members of the house, be chaired by the Speaker and sit every Tuesday to allow Cabinet Secretaries respond to questions.
This followed complaints by some members of the House that the smaller committees, before which the Cabinet Secretaries have been appearing, do not satisfactorily report back to the House.
Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, Interior CS Joseph Ole Lenku and Education CS Jacob Kaimenyi had been scheduled to appear on the floor of the house on Tuesday.