, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi’s transition to the interior ministry, although widely anticipated, has elicited debate on the choice of President Uhuru Kenyatta for the crucial security docket.
According to Dr Richard Bosire, a Nairobi-based political analyst, Matiangi must remain firm and resolute if he has to be successful in his new job.
“The difference with Matiangi is that he has authority, he speaks with authority and having worked as an education minister, he has demonstrated that he at least has an understanding of how co-ordination takes place,” Bosire said.
He however expressed his reservations with Matiangi’s selection to head the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government saying Matiangi was better off retaining his job at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Bosire who noted President Kenyatta’s decision to reorganize the National Police Service (NPS) told Capital FM News President Kenyatta must carry out well-thought-out changes to achieve an efficient security service.
“Has an analysis been done to see what a reorganization of NPS portends for the future of the security agencies? I hope President Kenyatta considers the country first because he has a legacy to leave once he completes his second term.”
While announcing a reorganization of his administration, President Kenyatta picked former Police Spokesperson George Kinoti as the chief of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), replacing Ndegwa Muhoro who has served as the DCI Director for eight years.
NPS Inspector General Joseph Boinnet was assigned two new deputies – Edward Njoroge Mbugua (Regular Police) and Noor Gabow (Administration Police).
Once vetted by the National Police Service Commission, Mbugua and Noor will replace Joel Kitili and Samuel Arachi.
But even as Matiangi awaits assumption of his new docket for which he has been acting Cabinet Secretary since the passing on of Joseph Nkaissery, various actors have called on him to undertake reforms that would guarantee political freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Let the minister look at the law and bring to an end brutality against protestors. During President Daniel Moi’s era, people were to have a written license to address political rallies. That is no longer the case under the new dispensation. We cannot reverse the clock,” Bosire remarked.
Similar calls have been made by civil society groups which have asked Matiangi to streamline the existing regulatory regime.
Presiding Convener of the Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG), Suba Churchill, on Sunday challenged Matiangi to convene a ministerial roundtable to discuss issues of concern.
“A Ministerial roundtable with civil society stakeholders on how to develop Rules and Regulations for the smooth operationalization of the Public Benefit Organizations Act will go a long way in addressing some of the challenges that were identified in Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2006 on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that was adopted by the Cabinet in 2006,” Churchill said.
Churchill who had during the electioneering period last year decried a crackdown on some NGOs by the NGO Co-ordination board which was then chaired by Fazul Mohamed said reforms were crucial if essential freedoms are to be protected.
He blamed existing gaps in legal frameworks under which NGOs function as the main cause of Mohamed’s persecution of civil society actors who he said were oppressed for their criticism of the government.
Mohamed’s term came to an end on November 23 albeit complaints of abuse of power. Churchill accused him in his statement of arbitrarily dismissing over ten staff at the board which lies squarely under the interior ministry.
Among those Mohamed is accused of firing irregularly are his deputy Andrew Ogombe.
He is also accused of facilitating the appointment of Alvin Ntimama, a son of the Chairperson of the Board Amos Ntimama to the board in June 2017.
“With his confirmation as the substantive CS for Interior and Coordination of National Government, the CSRG calls on Dr. Fred Matiang’i to move with speed and announce a commencement date for the Public Benefit Organizations Act that was assented to by then President Mwai Kibaki on January 14, 2013,” Churchill said in his Sunday statement.
“It is only through implementation of the Public Benefits Organizations Act that the malpractices at the NGO Coordination Board can be streamlined as the new sets high ethical standards for the regulator and organizations registered under the Act,” he added.
While the debate on whether reappointed Cabinet Secretaries will be vetted afresh by the National Assembly Committee on Appointments is still alive, Churchill said civil society groups are banking on Matiangi’s support to reform NGO Board’s regulatory role.
According to Article 152 (2) of the Constitution, the President is empowered to appoint Cabinet Secretaries with the approval of the National Assembly with Article 152 (5) allowing the Head of State to reassign.
Opinion has however been divided on how Matiangi and five other cabinet colleagues who have been retained will be screened after Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale said the reappointed CSs will not be vetted afresh.
Despite not nominating members to the Committee on Appointments, the Minority side in Parliament has dismissed Duale’s position.
Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetangula and his National Assembly counterpart John Mbadi have insisted that all appointees have to undergo vetting.
Isaac Mwaura, a Jubilee Party MP (nominated) Tuesday added his voice to the matter arguing that all appointees would have to be vetted before taking an oath of office.