Monday, September 14, 2009



By Public Watchdog
The Standard
Nairobi, Kenya

The conflict over the reappointment of the Director and two Assistant Directors of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) remains a matter of contention between the Executive and Parliament.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Kenneth Marende, made a ruling last week on how Parliament — as the Legislature — the Judiciary and for that matter the Executive arm of government shall operate with respect to each others’ jurisdictional operating frameworks.

That milestone ruling, with respect to the sub judice rule on matters before the courts and the dictates of public interest, marked a watershed determination.

With respect to this action, the Public Watchdog gives a thumbs-up to Speaker Marende on how Parliament shall, henceforth, consider and deal with matters of compelling public interest.

Mr Speaker, you have discharged your part and demonstrated consistency and resoluteness in judgement.

In addition to the kudos, this column further urges you to stay on the side of public interest — no matter the criticism — as your action shall define and build the people’s trust in the institution of Parliament.

That remains your call of duty, which is to facilitate debate and not to impede it as others would hope. The latter desire would definitely serve to undermine the institution of Parliament.

What is next?

It now is up to the Legislature to assume its responsibility to navigate the issues and come up with solutions that shall reshape and serve to define the role of Parliament, as an overseer of public interest.

Thus, today could yet prove to be Parliament’s moment of truth and KACC’s defining moment on a matter that has become so disputed, with the very likely risk of paralysing KACC’s operations.

Firstly, the President cannot afford to be silent on the matter any longer in terms of actions to safeguard the institution of the presidency and protect public interest. He needs an exit strategy. The situation compels some action. In any event, the President holds a critical key in any resolution.

The fundamental question remains: What options are available to the President, not only to defend the integrity of the office of the President but more importantly to resolve this matter of the reappointments, whose enormity in terms of public interest is rising, with a potential of causing a constitutional crisis?

Solutions with sobriety

The Public Watchdog hastens to reiterate that at play must not be politics-as-usual.

The choice picked cannot be on whether or not, but on ways and means of arriving at a workable resolution out of the quagmire.

Further, it is no longer about who is right or who is wrong, as the matter of the process of the reappointments has now become a matter in serious contention.

At stake is the national quest to fight and eliminate corruption, which has become endemic in our social, economic and political spectrum. Leaders and Parliament at large must realise this quest of fighting graft remains at the core of resolving the challenges ailing KACC. It is, therefore, essential to discuss and consider the available solutions with sobriety.

As for the President’s strategists, it is absolutely critical to exercise tact, gumption and conscientiousness in finding a winning formula, which carries the country and safeguards public interest.

Secondly, the President can call a public rally and gauge the national mood and play politics.

Will this work? Not at all. Parliament has captured the national mood and run with the prize.

Moreover, the public dwell-on is inconsistent with the current known practices of the President.

Can he call a Cabinet meeting to reach a compromise position? That still remains an elusive preposition given the known divergent views.

Further, the President has a robust machinery for feedback and how to reshape public opinion. He must, therefore, have digested correct facts and needs, only, to consult personal advisers as well as exercise his intuition to decide the next course of action.

In times of crises, only truthful and forthright advisers serve any purpose in offering a workable exit strategy.

Thirdly, the President may choose to postpone the challenge by sending the MPs on recess, until sometime next year. However, this option is likely to increase pressure on a resolution of the matter, rather than reduce it.

Fourthly, the President can choose to deny Parliament the last laugh by effecting far-reaching changes on his Cabinet and Public Service. As part of these changes, he could make a statement to the effect that he has accepted the resignations of the three appointees to KACC.

Vested interests

The President would then say: As the integrity of the Director and Assistant Directors are not in question, but for the process, he had directed that, if the trio so wish, they may now compete for the same jobs that shall be advertised by KACC Advisory Board.

Here, the President could yet again pull another one — and appoint the trio to other positions in Government.

The President would then reiterate that the changes effected have been with appropriate consultations in the Coalition Government.

Finally, as part of the changes in Government, the President will drop some ministers and appoint new ones, while underscoring efficiency and need to reinvigorate the Government’s commitment and efforts to fight corruption.

In effecting such changes, the President would demonstrate his Government now placed emphasis in strengthening institutions without any vested interests.

Whatever the President decides, he must act quickly as this matter is of compelling public interest.

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