John Mututho can now take over as chairman of the agency that leads the campaign against the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
The former MP and renowned anti-alcohol was saved by MPs, who voted to overturn the decision of one of their committees and approved his nomination.
The National Security and Administration Committee had argued in its report that Mr Mututho was the right man for the job at National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse, but had said he should first deal with a criminal and a civil matter he has in court.
But his supporters in the House argued that like President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, he should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and it was therefore bad to bar him.
Majority Whip Katoo Ole Metito then introduced the amendment to change the reportof the committee, there was a brief debate and when the vote was called, the ayes had it and Mr Mututho was in.
Wajir South MP Diriye Abdullahi was the first to oppose his appointment saying he must clear his name in Court. “He might be very suitable and competent but lacking in integrity, this will set bad precedent,” he said.
He got support from MPs Manson Nyamweya (South Mugirango, ODM), Mr John Mbadi (Suba, ODM) and Mr James Wandayi (Ugunja, ODM) who said Parliament could only approve his appointment after amending Chapter Six of the Constitution.
“I have nothing against Mututho but if we want to do this, we must black off Chapter Six,” said Mr Nyamweya.
“He is my friends is different, but are we going to appoint him and suspend him immediately on half pay according to law,” Mr Mbadi added.
But supporting MPs said it would be wrong to deny him the job based on a case that has dragged in the courts for years.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Kajiado Central MP Mr Joseph Nkaissery. “If they knew he had a case, they shouldn’t have waited for all those years,” the member said.
MPs Millie Odhiambo Mabona and Richard Onyonka said the standards and benchmarks for accountability of public officers were lowered in March when candidates were allowed to run for elective posts despite facing court cases.
“He can keep the job until found guilty,” Mr Onyonka said.
“The rod used on one must be equally used on others, if he has not been charged he should serve until he is proven guilty because we lowered the standards,” “Mrs Mabona added.
“I am not in way way encouraging corrupt practices neither have my standards changed, the date upon which the courts will find him guilty we should not even wait that he is hounded out,” the member said.
FEW PEOPLE PASSIONATE ABOUT ANYTHING
Members supporting him said very few people are passionate about anything and that Mr Mututho was exceptional in his zeal to fight alcohol abuse.
“We have seen through Mututho laws what he has done, we need more people in this country who believe very strongly in an issue they can champion,” Mrs Mabona said.
Marakwet East MP David Bowen said the alcohol control law had instilled responsibledrinking behaviour and restored many families. “We need a person of his calibre to fight drug abuse and alcoholism, since operationalisation of the Mututho laws, we have seen some women who really appreciate their men and can now even give birth, we want to give Mututho the job,” the member said.
Majority Leader Aden Duale also supported his appointment saying having acriminal case in court cannot bar one from leadership. He said the judiciary and not Mr Mututho should be blamed for the delayed determination of his court case.
“We ask him to do the work before him with the same zeal with which he brought the alcohol law,” he said.
Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno said the House resolution meant in future, anyone facing charges of a financial nature touching on his integrity should be considered innocent until proven guilty by the courts.
He said by the resolution, the House was undertaking to acquit any persons from charges where a case takes unnecessarily long and that necessary amendments should be made to the relevant laws including the Economic Crimes Act.
Mr Asman Kamama who chairs the parliamentary committee that authored thereport said it had been very fair to Mr Mututho and that its recommendation was based on precedence set in the past.
That was before the amendment and the subsequent vote that effectively annulled their report.
– Daily Nation