, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Charity Ngilu appeared in the National Assembly to respond to MPs’ questions despite a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff, asking Cabinet Secretaries to skip sessions with the Committee on General Oversight.
Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale kicked off the proceedings by confirming the presence of Ngilu, Cabinet Secretaries Joseph ole Lenku and Jacob Kaimenyi in the House and took a swipe at the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution for issuing misleading statements on the appearance of the CSs before the special House team.
“The function we are doing today, Honourable Chair is exactly how the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury comes to the House to read the Budget. So it is a committee of the House, not a plenary. So Honourable Nyachae (CIC chairman), if he is watching us, we are telling him that your work is to implement, your work is not to interpret,” Duale stated.
Kinyua on his part wrote to the Clerk of National Assembly Justin Bundi notifying him that the CSs would not honour the summons following concerns raised by the Attorney General, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and the Legal Affairs Office at the Presidency.
However, in her opening remarks to the House, Ngilu said she was looking forward to interacting with the MPs as the representatives of the people.
“Mr Speaker sir, I first and foremost want to thank you most sincerely and indeed the entire August House, for allowing us to share what we are doing in the government with you, and I am happy to be before this General Oversight Committee of National Assembly. Mr Speaker, I must admit that I am feeling very strange in this House,” said the Lands CS.
The CIC and Law Society of Kenya have opposed the move saying it goes against the spirit of separation of powers following promulgation of the new Constitution which created a presidential system where the Cabinet is picked from outside Parliament.
The CIC has already filed a case in court over the matter.
After Ngilu finished her session, the House was notified that Lenku and Kaimenyi had ‘vanished’ and Duale proposed their appearance be re-scheduled to next Tuesday.
House Speaker Justin Muturi told the House the duo could not be traced in the Office of the Leader of Majority where they were waiting their turn so that they could respond to MPs’ queries in the special sitting.
“Honourable Members… the information I am getting from the Clerk (of the National Assembly) is the other two CSs, who were waiting in the office of the Leader of Majority to appear at their time have since vanished. They cannot be located and (the Office of the Leader of Majority) is open.”
Lenku and Kaimenyi’s ‘disappearance’ did not go down well with the MPs who are returning from a month-long recess with some calling for their censure and that of the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Aden Duale who is the link between the House and the Executive promised to give a definitive explanation to the House on why the CSs run away from the House.
“It is not the first time in the history of Kenya that you summon a Cabinet Secretary or any other Kenyan and he doesn’t turn up. Treat this as you would treat when the National Treasury CS gets a commitment or is held up in traffic. Let us not rush and say that we should send the CSs to the slaughter-house.”
Before adjourning the sitting prematurely at 11.24am, Committee Chairman and House Speaker Muturi had reaffirmed that the Parliament cannot be stopped in oversighting the other Arms of Government.
“If tomorrow we decide to create a committee to deal with traffic lights or a committee to deal with the spiralling rate of unemployment nobody can stop us it is our responsibility. Once the committees are set up, every Cabinet Secretary shall appear relating to matter for which they are responsible for,” Muturi stated.