Politics and policy

House team set to vet Cabinet nominees

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President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta consults with his Deputy President-elect William Ruto (left) and Water minister Charity Ngilu at  the KICC March 14, 2013. They met women members of the Jubilee Coalition who were elected to various positions in last week’s General Election. BILLY MUTAI

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta consults with his Deputy President-elect William Ruto (left) and Water minister Charity Ngilu at the KICC March 14, 2013. They met women members of the Jubilee Coalition who were elected to various positions in last week’s General Election. BILLY MUTAI   Nation Media Group

By EDWIN MUTAI

Posted  Thursday, March 14   2013 at  21:01

In Summary

  • The Select Committee on Appointments will comprise the Deputy Speaker, the leaders of both the majority and minority parties, their deputies and not more than 22 other members nominated by the House Business Committee (HBC).
  • In establishing the Committee of Appointments, HBC, which sets the agenda of business to be transacted by Parliament on a weekly basis, is required to consider the numerical strength of the parties and interests of independent members.

The National Assembly Speaker will chair a 29-member powerful committee that will vet Cabinet Secretaries under new standing orders published this week.

The Select Committee on Appointments, which shall be constituted within seven days of the assembly of a new House, will comprise the Deputy Speaker, the leaders of both the majority and minority parties, their deputies and not more than 22 other members nominated by the House Business Committee (HBC).

The committee will serve for three years and its successor for the remainder of the term of the Assembly.

According to section 204 of the new Standing Orders published by Parliament on Tuesday, the Committee on Appointments will consider for approval, appointments of Cabinet Secretaries as stipulated under Article 152 (2) of the constitution.

“The President shall nominate and, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint Cabinet Secretaries,” states the said section of the supreme law.

The Constitution has capped the size of the Cabinet at 25 members, including the President, his deputy and the Attorney- General.

“Cabinet Secretaries will not be less than 14 or more than 22 members.” Article 152 (3) of the Constitution forbids a Cabinet Secretary from being a Member of Parliament.

In establishing the Committee of Appointments, HBC, which sets the agenda of business to be transacted by Parliament on a weekly basis, is required to consider the numerical strength of the parties and interests of independent members.

Other departmental committees will deal with other appointments that require House approval such as those of the Secretary to the Cabinet, Principal Secretaries, the Attorney-General, ambassadors and high commissioners.

The standing orders also create a Committee on Selection that will be picking MPs to serve in committees, with the exception of the HBC and Committee on Appointments.

The committee, which will comprise the leader of the majority party as chairman, the leader of the minority party and between 11 and 19 other members be nominated by Parliamentary parties according to their strengths with regard to the one-third gender rule.

In the past membership to committees was determined by respective party whips and submitted to the HBC for tabling and adoption by the House.

The old standing orders had no ceiling on the number of committees an individual member could sit in but the new orders restrict this to two.

A committee of Regional Integration which seeks to enhance participation of the House in trade partnerships has also been created.

It will among other things examine records of meetings of the East African Legislative Assembly, Bills introduced in the regional assembly and Acts of the East African Community.

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