By JOHN NGIRACHU firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Tuesday, May 14 2013 at 23:30
Posted Tuesday, May 14 2013 at 23:30
The National Assembly on Tuesday cleared President Kenyatta’s 16-member Cabinet for appointment in a session overshadowed by a fight over Mrs Phyllis Chepkosgey Kandie.
Parliament’s committee on appointments rejected her nomination, describing her as unsuitable for the position of Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Tourism and Commerce.
Her appointment became the subject of an acrimonious debate that lasted the better part of the afternoon session.
MPs were divided along party lines, with Jubilee members of the Committee on Appointments changing the positions they took collectively at its meetings.
Members of the committee from the Minority accused their counterparts of hypocrisy as they unsuccessfully tried to stop them from changing the report.
The plot to have Mrs Kandie’s nomination approved was hatched at a Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at the Sarova Panafric Hotel earlier in the day where the MPs were told how they would overturn the recommendation on Mrs Kandie.
At the end of the one-and-a-half-hour meeting chaired by Majority Leader Aden Duale, it was decided that the report would be changed and Jubilee would use its numbers in the House to push the list through.
Mrs Kandie was rejected by the committee despite the fact that the Jubilee Coalition enjoys a comfortable majority as it has 16 MPs on the 28-member team.
The job to initiate the amendment to the committee’s report on the floor of the House was given to Nairobi Women Representative Rachel Shebesh.
Ms Shebesh argued that Mrs Kandie was a qualified and that from watching the committee’s hearings live on TV last week, it was obvious that the team chaired by the Speaker did not like the nominee.
As a Bachelor of Commerce graduate, a holder of a Masters degree in Business Administration and an investment banker for 15 years, Mrs Kandie was qualified to be a Cabinet secretary, Ms Shebesh said.
“She probably wasn’t sitting upright as they would have wanted,” Ms Shebesh said.
Her presentation was interrupted by Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo who said his colleagues in the House should have had a better explanation of the reasons for rejecting Mrs Kandie than that given by Majority Leader Aden Duale.
MPs were also discussing a report they were yet to read because copies had not been provided after Majority Whip Katoo ole Metito tabled it.
Reports are normally tabled in the House several days before they are debated but this was not possible on Tuesday because it was the last day for Parliament to finish its vetting.
Mr Duale’s presentation when he got the first chance to contribute was also weak, perhaps because Jubilee had agreed to recommend Mrs Kandie’s appointment, and he made a point to stress that MPs have a right to amend the report.
The committee members were accused of seeking to withhold allegations that had been levelled against Mrs Kandie.
The report presented to the MPs did not contain minutes of their meetings as is the custom and Minority MPs suggested this was part of a cover-up.
Budalang’i’s Ababu Namwamba questioned why the committee failed to give a verdict on allegations made against the nominee that appeared to go against Article Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.
“When you are undertaking an exercise like this, you must provide all the details that can help in decision-making. This is absolutely diabolical for the committee to choose to deliberately withhold information,” said Mr Namwamba.
According to the report, the suitability of six other nominees was contested.
They were Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, the nominee for Education, Science & Technology, Ms Charity Ngilu (Land, Housing and Urban Development), Dr Fred Matiang’i (Information, Communication and Technology), Mr Davis Chirchir (Energy) and Mr Najib Balala (Mining). (READ: Disquiet over Uhuru-Ruto Cabinet line-up)
However, when it was time to vote, all the nominees were cleared by acclamation.