Deputy President William Ruto Wednesday admitted that President Uhuru Kenyatta was misadvised in making some appointments that contravened the law.
Reacting to a question on the recent appointments of parastatal heads that have sparked criticism, Mr Ruto said “hard questions” will be asked to those who advised the President to approve them.
“(This) should not have happened,” he said when he appeared on Citizen TV’s morning talk show, Cheche. “We will be asking them very hard questions.”
Among the appointments that had provoked heated debate was that of gadfly 2013 presidential candidate Abduba Dida as chairman of the CDF board, and Mr Francis Muthaura as chairman of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) board.
The gazette notice appointing Mr Dida said he would hold the job from tomorrow until September 9. It also revoked the appointment of Ms Jennifer Barasa.
Opposition leaders criticised Mr Dida’s appointment, saying the position required vetting by Parliament. Other leaders criticised Mr Muthaura’s appointment, arguing that the position should have been given to a youthful candidate. There were also murmurs among some URP legislators who claimed that Rift Valley had gotten a raw deal in the appointments.
But speaking in Kericho later in the day, Mr Ruto, who is also the URP leader, said: “We cannot give all the jobs in government to two tribes alone… Our major aim is to enhance unity.”
He criticised Rift Valley MPs who had complained about Mr John Mututho’s appointment as head of the anti-drugs agency, Nacada.
“We have given you so many jobs and some are still complaining that John Mututho is the chairman of Nacada. What do they want? I don’t understand,” he said.
Mr Mututho’s initial appointment was revoked because the law had not been followed. He was later re-appointed after the process was regularised.
Mr Ruto’s statement that the President could have been misadvised is bound to turn the spotlight on some of Mr Kenyatta’s key advisers on legal matters who include Attorney General Githu Muigai, Solicitor General Njee Muturi and State House constitutional and legal affairs adviser Abdikadir Mohammed.
Said Mr Ruto: “In the case of Mututho, the advice given to him was not correct because the process of appointing the chair of Nacada requires a certain process….Dida’s appointment also required the approval of Parliament.”
Mr Ruto, however, said the confusion could have arisen from the fact that different laws were used to effect the appointments.
Later in the day, an official at the State Law office who declined to be named, said the responsibility of advising the President on appointments lay with the respective ministers.
“If, for instance, the President wants to make an appointment to a parastatal in the Ministry of Tourism or that of Industrialisation, the minister in charge of the docket is the adviser,” said the official.
The latest appointments to parastatal boards have been signed off by the respective Cabinet secretaries while the bulk of those made on December 27 and 31 had been signed by the President.
Mr Ruto also said the President should not be criticised for getting only two out of more than 50 appointments he has made so far wrong.
“If you are to mark these appointments, the President has only got two out of the 50 wrong. He has been right in the 48 others, meaning that he has scored an A,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy Head of State also defended President Kenyatta over accusations that he ignored the youth while appointing the chairs of various parastatal boards. He said the energy of the youth could better be utilised in other jobs.
“Chairmen are non-executive positions. They only hold four meetings a year. You cannot give an energetic young man such a job,” Mr Ruto said, while claiming that 70 per cent of positions in government had so far been given to the youth.
“We are progressively bringing the youth to these institutions,” he said.
With regard to the appointment of Mr Muthaura to head Lapsset, Mr Ruto said the decision was made bearing in mind that Mr Muthaura played an important role in setting it up.
He said it was felt that the previous chair, Prof Ali Abdulrazak Shaukat, already had another job at the National Council for Science and Technology. “It was then decided that Mr Muthaura should be given the job, which is not a Lamu project…it is a major transport artery for the region.”
Later in the day, he said that he and the President were working towards making sure that the national cake was shared out across all the communities of Kenya to ensure that the constitutional requirement of regional balance was met.-nation.co.ke