Why Azimio team wants 4 CS nominees rejected

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Four nominees to the positions of Cabinet Secretary risk being rejected by the National Assembly after being cited for various transgressions, ranging from alleged corruption to questionable public conduct in the past.

The four are Mithika Linturi (CS nominee for Agriculture), Moses Kuria (Trade, Investment and Industry), Penina Malonza (Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage) and Aisha Jumwa (Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action).

The Appointments Committee (CoA) chaired by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula is reportedly divided over their nomination ahead of debate and voting on the names in the House this week. According to a tentative Order Paper seen by People Daily, the committee’s report will be tabled this afternoon ahead of its debate tomorrow.

As such, tomorrow is the D-Day when MPs can either approve or reject the entire list altogether, or with amendments.

This has created room for intense lobbying as those in the ‘red list’ will be seeking to ensure that they win the support of the majority of legislators.If the House approves the nominees, the acting Clerk of the National Assembly, Serah Kioko, will inform the President of the decision and the President shall appoint those who will have been approved formally through a Kenya Gazette notice.

Once gazetted, the nominees can then be sworn into office, effectively ending the tenure of their predecessors who have already held Cabinet meetings under the new administration.

Leaking information

“I know there is a problem with at least four members,” said one of the members of the committee who did not want to be named for fear of being identified as the one leaking committee deliberations. “The committee is divided on whether to approve them or not.  They are saying some of the people should not in any way be CSs”.

Some members of the committee, which vetted the nominees last week but who did no want to be identified, revealed that names of the four featured prominently during the team’s retreat at the weekend. According to sources, majority of the committee members had issues with the four due to the pending cases they have had in court.

Among those who have come out openly to criticise the four is Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi. He is on record as saying that Azimio-allied legislators will not approve candidates with integrity questions.

And with a razor-thin majority in the House, Kenya Kwanza-allied MPs will have a difficult job in the event that they decide to back the list in toto.

“This House is not a rubber stamp; this House is exercising its constitutional duty,”  Wandayi told lawmakers during the formation of the vetting team.

“When we start dealing with individual persons, we must not lose sight of the requirements of the Constitution. I will be pleading with MPs and the whole House to take it upon ourselves to interrogate each and every individual.”

Some members of the committee told ‘People Daily’ that the cases will impact negatively on how the affected nominees will discharge their mandates in the event that their names are approved by the House. Besides those with pending cases, the others in the cross-hairs of dissenting MPs were deemed to have demonstrated inadequate understanding of the dockets they had been assigned.

It was understood that MPs from the Azimio coalition who sit in the committee were considering writing a Minority report detailing the names of the four nominees and the reasons they should be rejected. They reportedly want their report tabled together with the Majority report.

Trouble with the names started after the Azimio-allied members in the committee objected to the clearance of three of the nominees on grounds that they have pending court cases.

Politically instigated

They were also of the view that the move by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to withdraw some of the cases against the suspects was politically instigated and, therefore, issues of merit and integrity were still hanging around the necks of the targeted nominees.

 According to them, the three; Linturi, Jumwa and Kuria, should not be cleared on the grounds that they do not meet the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution on ethics and integrity. In Malonza’s case, they argued that the former Deputy Governor had not demonstrated a grasp of her docket. It was, ironically, alleged that some of those who expressed misgivings about her ability were from her lower Eastern backyard.

In the case of Jumwa and Kuria, members of the committee revealed that the Azimio side was willing to consider having them approved but flatly rejected Linturi on grounds that he still has 35 cases pending in court.

The Azimio MPs, it was understood, have vowed to mobilise their colleagues to have Linturi’s name rejected when the House starts debate on the report tomorrow. “Azimio has a problem with Kuria, Linturi and Jumwa because of the cases they have, but for Malonza, it was just a small issue with Ukambani MPs,” said the source.

No help from Ruto

“I want to tell you that unless these nominees lobby the House to approve them, his Excellency the President has made it clear that he is not going to defend anyone; he has done his part and they should do the rest,” the source said.

Linturi, who told the vetting team that his net worth is Sh1.2 billion, also said he has 35 civil cases pending in court.

Appearing before the committee last week, Linturi blamed his woes on the bad relationship he had with former DCI boss George Kinoti. He, however, clarified that he was not involved in any criminal case except the attempted rape case which has since been withdrawn.

“I’m an open book. In fact, those that write and say I have a litany of cases, is an understatement. As I sit here, I have 35 cases in court. And these 35 cases are of civil nature. I have no criminal case in this country,” Linturi said.

“The only criminal case I had was the attempted rape case and the complainant, Beryl Akoth, withdrew the case where I was actually the complainant. Everybody knows the kind of bad relationship I had with the DCI and the political position I had taken in the last election,” he added.

Jumwa, who said she was worth Sh100 million, is also on the MP’s radar over the cases she has been battling in court.

The opposition MPs want her left out until a murder case that is still pending in court is determined.

Jumwa is accused of killing a Mr Ngumbao in 2019 during campaigns for Ganda ward by-election. She is accused jointly with her aide, Geoffrey Okuto.

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