Vitalis Kimutai, The Standard, 30 November 2011

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have breached the Constitution by failing to appoint members of new and revamped national anti-graft body over differences on who should head it.

Consequently, the two Principals have failed to meet the deadline for appointing a replacement for PLO Lumumba who headed the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) replaces KACC. It is reported that vested interests led to the differences between the leaders of the two main partners in the ruling coalition over whom from the final list of three people shortlisted should steer EACC. However, sources familiar with the standoff say the two leaders would compromise by way of one being allowed to pick the chair and the other the deputy.

Sources familiar with the disagreement say the Principals had narrowed down to two names, but could not agree on who should be the one.

The two are said to be former Law Society of Kenya chair who also served in the KACC Advisory Board, Erick Okong’o Omogeni, and Mumo Matemu who is a former Commissioner at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and chaired the Task Force on dual citizenship.

Sources familiar with the tussle that has slowed down the process reveal whereas the President wants Prof Matemu to take over EACC, Raila on the other hand would wish to see the post given to Mr. Omogeni. During the vetting, Omogeni scored the highest at 81.7 points, followed by Matemu with 78.4 points.

Apart from the two, the only other person who had been shortlisted for chair of EACC was Sarah Kilemi, a Development Economist. She was third in the interview rankings, with 78.1 points.

Last evening, Minister for Justice Mutula Kilonzo, however, argued although the timelines had been breached, the President could through a Gazette Notice extend the period by at least 21 days.

“According to the Independent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2011, the President has leeway to extend the period, but this should not have happened as we had all the time to carry out the process,” said Mutula.

The two Principals failed to beat the deadline of presenting three names that constitute the EACC to Parliament by Thursday last week. Early in the year, many Bills were rushed through Parliament without requisite scrutiny because of delays occasioned by the two Principals.

The Independent Ethics Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2011 stipulates that the President shall, within 14 days of receipt of the names of successful applicants forwarded, select a chairperson and members of the commission and forward the names to Parliament for approval.

Parliament shall within 21 days after receiving the names, vet and consider, and may approve or reject any or all of them. If the names are approved by Parliament, the Speaker forwards the names to the President for appointment. In turn, the President shall within seven days of receiving the names, make the appointments.

Apart from the three, four other nominees were short-listed for the two positions of EACC commissioners and forwarded to the Principals for them to fill the two open slots. The four were Jane Kerubo Onsongo, a former KACC Assistant Director, Ochilo Polycarp Omolo a media researcher and lecturer, Robert Francis Shaw, a household name in economics and finance, and Irene Cheptoo Keino, who like Omogeni served in the KACC Advisory Board.

Prof Onsongo scored the highest in the interview followed by Ochilo, then Shaw and Keino in that order. Rose Mambo led the EACC selection panel.

Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC) Chairman Mohamed Abdikadir decried the fact the President Kibaki and Prime Minister had delayed the process. He said they had also failed to forward to Parliament the list of nominees to set up the Land Commission and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

“We have covered sufficient ground in the implementation, but the mood is starting to turn sour as the windows narrow. We need to get over with it as soon as possible,” Abdikadir said.

The Mandera Central MP also said failure to put in place legislations to govern County Governments, as the country approaches the General Election was a major issue.

“We run the risk of going to election and having institutions which do not have laws to operate on,” he warned.

He said CIOC was disappointed that the Principals had not forwarded the EACC list to Parliament for vetting.

“They have disregarded the timeliness and send very bad signals in the fight against corruption,” Abdikadir lamented.

He said that there was genuine fear among Kenyans that the Principals were engaging in horse-trading and were not committed to fighting corruption.

Last evening, well-placed sources in Government said it was highly likely that President Kibaki’s choice would be picked, but Raila’s wing would be given a different position for accepting the President’s choice.

For reasons of gender and regional balance as enshrined in the Constitution, Onsongo from Nyanza is said to have been favored for a slot on the Commission.

“The President’s wing was more interested in the position of chair, but as things stand now, Onsongo automatically qualifies because of the gender rule and regional balancing,” said a source in ODM familiar with the process to unlock the impasse.

Sources said Mr. Shaw is favored to join the EACC as a commissioner because he is perceived to be independent.

Omogeni, the outgoing KACC Advisory Board chair, topped the interviews conducted by a Public Service panel.

An Assistant Minister from ODM said while pushing Omogeni’s case they argued there was need for institutional memory because he had served as the KACC Advisory Board chairperson.

Those opposed to that argument, however, said the appointment of Onsongo would bring experience to the Commission because she was an Assistant Director in the now defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission under Prof Lumumba.

Sources said Dr. Kilemi was not picked because she comes from the same region as Matemu, while Mr. Ochilo may miss out for similar reasons and gender considerations because he also comes from Nyanza.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) on Wednesday argued failure to forward the names to Parliament in time was a clear indication the Principals were not committed to the fight against corruption.

Ken Akide, the LSK chairperson said Kibaki and Raila were paying lip service to the fight against graft at a time the country was gearing up for the General Election.

“The horse-trading has clearly shown the Principals are serving interests of their political parties when the citizens are interested in good governance. It is unfortunate that it has come to this,” Akide said.

Posted on Friday, December 2, 2011


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