Keter, Kazungu quit politics as MPs approve Cabinet jobs
NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 16 – Kericho County Senator Charles Keter and Malindi MP Dan Kazungu quit their political positions Wednesday, after the National Assembly approved their nominations to the Cabinet.
Keter – who has been nominated to the Energy and Petroleum docket and Mining CS nominee Kazungu – now await to be sworn into office.
They wrote to their respective Speakers in the Senate and the National Assembly explaining that they were resigning their posts in order to assume their new responsibilities in the Cabinet.
“As I assume my new responsibilities, I will sincerely remain indebted to the people of Belgut Constituency for having first elected me as their MP an indeed the people of Kericho County. I look forward to serving the people of Kenya with zeal and patriotism,” Keter said in his resignation letter.
On his part, Kazungu said: “I will sincerely remain indebted to the people of Malindi Constituency for having elected me as their MP. I look forward to continued service, diligence and integrity to them and to the rest of the people of this our great nation in the Cabinet.”
Keter, Kazungu and five other Cabinet nominees were cleared at a special sitting which was overshadowed by fights over rampant corruption in government, lack of gender and regional balance in the Cabinet and credibility of investigative bodies.
The Committee on Appointments had recommended their appointment describing them as suitable for their respective positions.
The nominees are Keter (Energy), Kazungu (Mining), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution and Planning), Cleopa Mailu (Health), Willy Bett (Agriculture), Joseph Mucheru (ICT) and Sicily Kariuki (Public Service).
Minority Deputy Leader Jakoyo Midiwo and the Majority Leader Aden Duale clashed over allegations that the government was trying to cover up the truth behind loss of funds raised through the Eurobond.
Midiwo said this as he cautioned the new appointees against engaging in acts of corruption and also urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop poaching Opposition MPs.
This provoked jeers from the Jubilee side of the House, prompting Duale to stand up on a Point of Order to challenge him on the allegations that some of the appointees had been involved in the Eurobond scandal.
The Majority Leader questioned why he never put the allegations to the appointees when they appeared for their approval hearings on Friday last week.
“Mr Speaker, this is the same circus that we have been treated to out there and I want my counterparts to know that I will not allow them to bring that circus here,” Duale charged amid cheers from his side.
He received backing from Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga who asked the Speaker to rule Midiwo out of order because he was making contributions which were not relevant to the debate.
“Mr Speaker, is it in order for the Midiwo to bring this now? In law we have the principle of cross-examination and he knows that is where he should have put these questions he is asking now. He is putting it to the wrong forum,” he said.
The Speaker was further dragged into the matter after Midiwo attempted to table documents he claimed showed how Sh140 billion raised from the Eurobond was misappropriated.
Muturi ruled that Midiwo was out of order to which Duale dared the Opposition to rally its members to petition the Speaker so that the House can debate the matter of the Eurobond.
MPs Millie Odhiambo (Suba), Opyio Wandayi (Ugunja) and Ken Okoth (Kibra) cited lack of gender and ethnic balance as grounds for rejection.
If approved as proposed, the Cabinet will have five women and 15 men, a situation Wandayi said will flout the two-thirds gender rule.
The EACC and the DCI came under criticism over their handling of the vetting of the appointees after they gave conflicting reports on three nominees.
Duale, Midiwo and Nyaribari Chache MP Richard Onyonka questioned the professionalism of the EACC after they stormed the CDF offices of Mining CS nominee Kazungu.
They wondered what informed the raid when the anti-graft agency CEO Halakhe Waqo appeared before the Committee on Appointment that Commission and said allegations of misuse of CDF funds by the nominee were unsubstantiated, and read malice, given the timing of filing the complaint.
EACC agents descended on the offices of the Malindi CDF offices and took away documents saying they were investigating allegations that the MP misappropriated Sh52 million allocated through the CDF.
Attempts by Chepkonga, who chairs the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee – which oversights the operations of independent commissions under the governance and legal sector – to defend the EACC were met with jeers from MPs who are unhappy with the EACC after released a report implicating the MPs in massive corruption practices such claiming fictitious mileage claims.
He later gave in to pressure and declared that his committee had summoned EACC to appear before it when the House resumes sittings in January.