Cabinet and Asst ministers among MPs at risk of being barred from running
NAIROBI; KENYA: With only 14 weeks to the General Election, Members of Parliament with court cases could be barred from running unless the matters are concluded in their favour by January 4 next year.
Their greatest fear of the 12 legislators is that given the way courts operate it is foreseeable that some of the cases might not be determined in the remaining period. In that case they could be blocked from running for any political office in line with the high integrity standards set by Chapter Six of the Constitution.
There will, however, be debate on whether such a decision would be fair as they would not have been judged guilty or innocent until the courts give their rulings.
But proponents of such a move say Chapter Six is now law and one is required to step aside until cleared to enforce integrity in management of public affairs and leadership in general.
As things stand, given that most of the cases are criminal in nature, the suits portend a serious risk to the political careers of the MPs in question since the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will only clear those without court cases.
There is a precedent set by the court ruling that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) commissioner Mr Mumo Matemo was unfit to head the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission because of integrity issues raised against him that are still in court.
The new trend was reinforced when Ms Nancy Baraza, Deputy Chief Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court, quit after a security guard alleged she insulted and slapped her.
Lawyer Gitobu Imanyara and civic rights observer Ndung’u Wainaina argue that the question of integrity goes beyond criminal charges.
“The issue of integrity is bigger even than a criminal case and there is no way one can one can contest for public office while saddled with integrity issues,” said Imanyara.
MPs on the spot include a Cabinet minister and Assistant ministers whose careers are not guaranteed unless the cases are heard and terminated before January 4, 2013 when IEBC is expected to clear candidates nominated by political parties.
Cabinet Minister John Munyes who is also the MP for Turkana North last week failed to stop his prosecution over incitement to violence charges. Forestry Assistant Minister Josephat Nanok and Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro were arraigned in court last week charged with incitement to violence, but on Wednesday the court rejected the charges saying the charge sheet was defective.
The two together with Munyes had been charged with making utterances in connection to the Suguta Valley massacre of over 40 police officers.
Munyes had moved to the High Court to stop the prosecution, which was rejected.
They have already expressed fears that the police could arrest and arraign them in court with an amended charge sheet, casting a long shadow on the careers of the three.
Some of the MPs have managed to stop their prosecution, but the cases remain alive in courts and may be kick-started before the nomination of candidates in mid-January.
Two Presidential contenders, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto are awaiting the decision of the High Court on their suitability to hold public office with their trials for crimes against humanity pending at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The High Court has been asked to determine if the two meet the requirement of Chapter Six of the Constitution. Last week, the High Court dismissed an appeal filed by applicants of the Uhuru-Ruto case seeking to suspend the hearing. They wanted the names of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka recently expunged from the case, reinstated.
The application asking the three-judge Bench to disqualify itself from hearing the case was also rejected, and the matter will now come up for hearing on Thursday.
The Sh41 million-corruption suit trial against Naivasha MP John Mututho is the case that has taken the longest time to conclude, having started in 2005. He is charged with fraudulently obtaining money from Kenyatta National Hospital as reimbursement for import duty and Value Added Tax.
Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu who is aspiring for the Nairobi governorship, is facing incitement charges filed in September this year, which cost him his job as Water Assistant minister. He is accused of having incited his constituents to violence and uttering hate remarks. The case is yet to start and on Monday Waititu tried to convince Nairobi Chief Magistrate Kiarie wa Kiarie to speed up the trial. The case was adjourned to January next year. It is unlikely to be concluded by nomination time.
Before the same magistrate is Galole MP Dhadho Godhana standing trial for incitement arising from the ethnic clashes in Tana River Delta two months ago. Godhana also lost his Livestock Assistant minister post.
The prosecution is about to close their case and the trial could be concluded by the end of the year.
Gatundu North MP Clement Waibara who intended to defend his Parliamentary seat is charged in Nyeri with conspiracy to kill his former political ally Mr Bernard Chege Mburu. On Wednesday his lawyer asked the court to expedite the case.
“If this case is not expedited, it could ruin my client’s political career,” Mr Evans Ondieki representing Waibara told the court last week.
Makadara MP Gidion ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi faces charges of assaulting a police officer at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in February. The case, which is yet to start, is before the Kibera court.
In April, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo managed to stop the police from charging him with giving false information on an alleged plot to assassinate Raila after he moved to the High Court in April and stopped the police from arresting him, but the case is still alive in the courts.
In Mombasa, ODM Nominated MP Sheikh Mohammad Dor was charged last month with incitement to violence after remarks he allegedly made in connection to the controversial MRC and the violence that rocked the area. He was released on Sh2 million bond and the case is yet to start.
Limuru MP Peter Mwathi has also stopped a prosecution against him over alleged hate speech. The charges were to be filed in court in August this year, and his High Court case that stopped the prosecution is still pending.