NAIROBI, Kenya May 13 – Chief Justice nominee Martha Koome was put on the spot Thursday when she was vetted by MPs who wanted her to explain claims that she is a feminist.
The query was put to her by Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang and Minority Whip Junet Mohammed who voiced concerns that the feminist legal theories she subscribes to may disadvantage male litigants seeking justice in the court.
“Would you consider yourself a feminist and do people of the other gender have anything to fear in your leadership as a Chief Justice?” Kajwang posed.
Mohammed posed a more direct question, “There is talk and rumours that you are a feminist and hate men.”
Koome however, denied the allegations saying that she always strives to be balanced and has been married for the last 35 years.
“I follow the dictates of the constitution, of the statute. I can never operate outside of the constitution. I do not hate men. As a matter of fact, I have been married for the last 35 years,” she replied
The CJ nominee clarified that her love for family and society will make Kenyans feel safe if she is offered the position.
“If approved, I hope to use this power of convening as the Chief Justice to speak to the families that we need to bring up, empower, and protect our children,” said Koome.
Earlier, she had stated that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is free to recruit an Ombudsman to handle complaints against judges and other members of the Judiciary.
“The JSC is mandated to deal with complaints about judges because of the independence of the judges and the institution. At the moment nothing stops JSC from advertising for the best possible person to apply as the Ombudsman of the Judiciary,” Koome explained.
The CJ nominee asserted that she got the position as a result of merit and the competitive nature of the recruitment process.
“For the 33 years I have worked, I have chosen to serve Kenyans with absolute commitment from the depth of my heart, my gender or where I come from does not come in my way,” the CJ nominee responded.
Kisumi Town West Olago Aluoch asked Koome whether she was disturbed by claims that her nomination has only served to give credence to tribal appointments in various public service positions by successive governments.
“Justice Koome does it bother you that if approved by Parliament, the three arms of Government will be headed by people from one region, commonly know as the Mountain, ” Kisumu Town West MP stated.
Koome said she brings to the court a wealth of experience earned from more than three decades in the Judiciary, having served in the High Court, and Court of Appeal as well as being a frontline fighter for human rights during the KANU era.
The committee is expected to prepare a report for tabling in the House by May 25 for debate before her name is forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment if approved by the committee.