Monday, September 14, 2009



By Martin Mutua

Kenyans could begin writing the epitaph for Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and the career of its newly reappointed director if Parliament starves it of cash on Tuesday.

This follows last week’s ruling by House Speaker Kenneth Marende allowing Parliament to debate the joint report prepared by Delegated Legislation Committee of the House and that of Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs.

In political circles KACC is already being seen as an institution on its deathbed — and ministers have even started lamenting it will go down with the evidence it had collected on Kanu’s mega-scandal, Goldenberg, and President Kibaki’s administration’s Anglo Leasing twin scams.

There is, however, another line of thought in Parliament that would rather let KACC survive but freeze the monies set aside as remuneration for Ringera and his deputies — Dr Smokin Wanjala and Ms Fatuma Sichale.

KACC is on life support. Parliament is mad at Kibaki over Ringera, and on Tusday MPs could just cut off its lifeline...

Justice Aaron Ringera, just two days after he confessed he was thrilled and delighted by the President’s unilateral decision to renew his contract, would probably be on the edge of his chair monitoring the proceedings of Parliament.

The way things stand, the options are limited and the fury of the war between the Legislature and the Executive is bound to rise. It could also be the week the uglier side of the fractured Grand Coalition, with some ministers as late as on Sunday, vowing to team up with backbenchers to scuttle Kibaki’s plan for Ringera.

Caught between a rock and a hard place would be the President, who having gazetted Ringera’s appointment after bypassing KACC Advisory Board and Parliament has his hands tied by the Constitution.

Sever lifeline

This is because legally, Ringera can only be removed from office following recommendation of a judicial tribunal — which must be satisfied he is unfit to hold office. The President could of course, if Parliament puts KACC in paralysis mode, talk Ringera into stepping down on his own volition in his interest and that of the luckless anti-graft war.

Unless Kibaki wins over Parliament, or those pushing for the severance of KACC’s lifeline fail to raise requisite numbers to push through their motion, it is clear the next few weeks will be heady. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea are Ringera, his two deputies, and KACC.

The joint report of the two committees — headed by Nominated MP Amina Abdallah and Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed — has recommended nullification of the gazette notice by Kibaki.

If the House passes the motion on the report, a new chapter will open in Kenya with Parliament clipping the powers of the presidency.

First according to the Act of Parliament creating KACC, the President cannot withdraw the gazette notice because Ringera by virtue of his appointment already enjoys security of tenure and, therefore, can only be removed through a tribunal.

But the catch is the President cannot set up the tribunal unless he is requested to do so by the Chief Justice upon recommendations by KACC Advisory Board.

Removed by tribunal

However, even assuming he is advised to do so, the reasons for the director’s removal from the position do not include incompetence but revolve around physical and mental incapability to handle the office.

"Unless the MPs probably break Ringera’s leg or arms such that he cannot move, then there is not a way he can be removed by a tribunal on any other grounds," Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, who argued in parliament the debate would be in contempt of court, told The Standard yesterday.

He argued that the sequence of events appeared likely to kill KACC. "If KACC is killed then all the evidence collected on corruption cases in the country will be buried as was the case when Mr John Harun Mwau was removed from the same office, everything he had investigated went with him," he added.

Mutula said the only other option would be for Ringera to resign which is highly unlikely.

This then leads Parliament to the next stage, which is the Appropriations Bill, an instrument the Finance Minister must have in order to spend the money voted for in the Budget.

Parliament is holding the Executive at ransom over the Bill as it waits on what action President Kibaki will take to reverse his decision to reappoint Ringera.

Sources told The Standard Government was also toying with the idea of suspending debate on the Appro priations Bill altogether until November to allow "tempers and emotions to cool off" as it also strategises.

Sources revealed Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had been given the idea of shelving the Bill. "The option is to allow the House to go on recess since the Government can manage to survive till November with the money it already has," added the source.

If Ringera stays put, Abdikadir has already placed a notice seeking to amend the Appropriations Bill to withdraw the entire Sh1.3 billion budgeted for KACC.

On Sunday Abdikadir told then The Standard the move was aimed at passing a message to the Executive that Parliament could no longer be ignored in decisions it is supposed to be part of.

"Parliament has functions that are prescribed under the law and the approval of the director of KACC is one of them," he added.

However, Abdikadir said the MPs are now consulting to see whether they could paralyse the operations of the entire commission or just those of Ringera and his assistants.

Kimilili MP Simiyu Esseli has also placed a notice of motion seeking to amend Abdikadir’s motion by targeting the funds directed to Ringera and his two deputies while leaving the budget of the other departments intact. Esseli wants to exclude the salaries and expenses of Ringera and the two assistants directors, which amounts to about Sh45 million.

On Sunday ODM Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o called for disbanding of KACC, claiming Kenyans had lost faith in it and that it should be reconstituted.

Flexing muscles

Lands Minister James Orengo and ODM’s Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo vowed the party would use its numerical superiority to stop Kibaki from misusing his powers.

Alego-Usonga MP Edwin Yinda and Nominated MP Rachel Shebesh declared the party had fallen out with Kibaki over the reappointments. They said rule of law must prevail in Coalition Government.

Orengo said: "Collective responsibility is not binding when it comes to the wrongdoings and we shall stand by the truth".

"It is not up to Kibaki to say whether Ringera is right for the job, and on Tuesday we shall show him in Parliament that he does not own Kenya," said Midiwo.