The High Court has quashed the government’s appointment of 129 heads of State corporations and board members.
In a verdict delivered by a three-judge bench, the court said the appointments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet secretaries in 2018 are invalid and unconstitutional.
Justices Jessie Lesit, Chacha Mwita and Lucy Njuguna said the appointments were illegal as they lacked transparency and competitiveness.
The judges added that the appointments were contrary to Article 232 of the Constitution on the values and principles of public service.
The court added that the Attorney-General failed to demonstrate that there was fair competition and merit as the basis of the appointments.
Further, the court said there was no demonstration that in the appointments, there was a representation of Kenya’s diverse communities and that there was an adequate opportunity in terms of gender, members of all ethnic groups and persons with disabilities.
“The requirements made in the Constitution (Article 232) was after views of Kenyans were collected during the constitution-making of the Constitution 2010. People of Kenya wanted to see transparent appointments and officers capable of guiding public wealth, not political patronage,” said the judges.
They added that under the 2010 Constitution, the country got a new regime on appointments to public offices.
Among the parastatal heads who have been rendered jobless by the court ruling is former Chief of Defence Force Julius Karangi and a host of 2017 poll losers led by former governors Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo) and Godana Doyo (Isiolo).
Others are Mombasa governorship aspirant Suleiman Shabhal, former Security minister George Saitoti's widow Margaret Wanjiru Saitoti, former president Mwai Kibaki's daughter Judith Wanjiku, unionist Mudzo Nzili, former Nairobi County Health Chief Officer Washington Makodingo and former Ndhiwa MP Augustino Neto.
Also affected is the chief of staff in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s office Caroli Omondi, former Cabinet minister William Ntimama’s son Amos Ntimama and Nyeri politician Geoffrey Kamau Kibui.
Fair and transparent
The court stated that Kenyans desired that parastatal appointments must be competitive, fair and transparent, considering persons with disabilities and Kenya's diverse communities.
It also invalidated various post-2010 statutes which allow appointments to parastatals without requiring competition.
The petition was filed by two non-government organisations — the Katiba Institute and Africa Centre for Open Governance.
The judges noted that courts, in exercising judicial authority, are guided by the principle of protecting and promoting the purpose and principles of the Constitution.