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Economy

Cabinet nominee on the spot for working before vetting

Public Service Cabinet secretary nominee Sicily Kariuki during a meeting involving Kepsa and parastatals in Nairobi on Tuesday. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Public Service Cabinet secretary nominee Sicily Kariuki during a meeting involving Kepsa and parastatals in Nairobi on Tuesday. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Cabinet secretary nominee in the Public Service and Youth Affairs ministry Sicily Kariuki on Tuesday presided over a function in her proposed docket before being vetted in Parliament.
Ms Kariuki is Principal Secretary Agriculture and on Tuesday released results showing tenders issued to women and the youth under the newly created Public Service and Youth Affairs department.

Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui termed Ms Kariuki’s move as illegal and a contempt of the Constitution because she doesn’t have the mandate to carry out ministerial duties before taking the oath of office.

“This is illegal, it is only after being sworn as the CS that she would have been conferred the mandate to carry out the tasks that are commensurate with her roles,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

He said that the CS nominee was not being faithful to the constitutional requirements of being vetted first, then appointed by the president before embarking on her ministerial duties.

Ms Kariuki is scheduled to be vetted by the National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments this Friday.

Article 152(2) of the Constitution requires the President to nominate and, with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint Cabinet Secretaries.

Ms Kariuki is among seven cabinet secretary nominees who are due for vetting on a list that includes Cleopa Mailu (Health), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution) and Charles Keter (Energy).

President Uhuru Kenyatta reshuffled his Cabinet on November 24 to replace five ministers who are being investigated for graft, and Devolution minister Anne Waiguru who resigned after being accused of corruption.

Other cabinet secretaries affected by the reshuffle include Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, who was moved from Education to Lands, and Fred Matiang’i who replaced Kaimenyi from the ministry of Information and Communication.

Prof Kaimenyi and Dr Matiang’i have been presiding over functions in their new dockets because they don’t require to be vetted afresh given that they were already in the Cabinet and were re-assigned duties.

Ms Kariuki needs to be vetted because she has been promoted from principal secretary to cabinet secretary.

The Constitution does not require ministers who have been reassigned duties to be vetted afresh. National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi ruled out the MPs over their quest to vet afresh nominees who had been moved to other ministries.

In 2013, Ms Kariuki was on the spot when she opted to remain on the board of Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) after her appointment as PS despite the law barring State officers from extra gainful employment.

The bank, which is associated with the family of Mr Kenyatta in 2012 appointed Ms Kariuki, then CEO of the Tea Board of Kenya, in a board shake-up that saw the Head of State’s lawyer tapped as chair.

The Constitution bars full-time State officers from participating in any gainful employment, with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission terming such appointments illegal.

The PS then defended her position on the CBA board, saying she was gaining private sector experience that was critical for her docket at the Ministry of Agriculture. She resigned from the CBA board in 2014.

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