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Vetting Commissions Should Reflect ‘Pure
And Truthful’ Conscience Of ‘Mwananchi’?

Coastweek -- In the last article I covered the vetting process of those seeking public office and how faulted it appeared and emphasised the need to completely revamp the process so that the person being vetted is required to give a full and complete disclosure of all their affairs, writes Teti Kamugunda.

The vetting team would also do their due diligence and then the two pieces of work would be brought together.

This will form the basis of the soap opera that should then follow with the public being treated to a televised humiliation of a respected person as their start on the journey to serving the public.

This process must be stopped and be revised.

To conclude on the issue of vetting (now that we have a break following the same process being applied to the selection of a Chief justice) I will turn to how ineffective this process is in producing the desired change in our national values and integrity.

We will start with the end process and then the following week look at the operations in the various public offices and how they are perceived with respect to Chapter six of the Constitution of Kenya.

Since the coming into force of the current Constitution of Kenya in twenty ten, we have had a large number of top people in public service vetted.

The Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries were all subjected to vetting by Parliament.

The Public Service Commission also did their bit as did the Judicial Service commission for their relevant teams.

The Commissioners themselves were also subject to vetting by Parliament before they were released as “Independent” operators for various parts of the Constitution.

The way our Constitution was set up was that the Commissions would be the pure and truthful conscience of the mwananchi.

They were to protect the sovereignty of the people, secure observance by all State organs if democratic values and principles and promote constitutionalism.

They would discharge their duties without fear or favour and would ruthlessly defend the values of the country.

They would be truly Independent and would have tenure of office unless of course there was good reason to remove them.

Removal from office in itself is an onerous process and lends itself to dragging the incumbent through the mud, in public, till such time as they voluntarily leave or leave in disgrace.

The premises for removal include serious violation of the Constitution or any other law including contravention of the famous Chapter six on Values.

Other premises are gross misconduct, physical or mental incapacity to preform the functions of the office, incompetence or bankruptcy.

Once any of these are suspected, anyone can present a petition to parliament asking for the removal of the incumbent or the whole Commission.

This will then trigger action by Parliament.

If they find that there are sufficient grounds then they would recommend to the President for the person or the Commission to be removed.

He or She will then form a Tribunal of some four people, three of whom must be judges, to listen to the pleadings.

The decision of the Tribunal is final and the President has to do what they say.

This is a lengthy process and though well designed, relies on the integrity and impartiality of the members of Parliament as the key gate keepers to the process.

They become the conscience of wanjiku as the poacher turns gamekeeper for our case.

Where there have been partisan appointments in the first place, there can be no independence or impartiality in the process.

Where there are fights between the government and the opposition in the August house then the tyranny of numbers will rule.

The outcome of such a process will most likely be flawed.

So in short, the vetting process at entry into public service is full of potholes and the “impeachment” process at the opposite end is also filled with potholes.

Whilst the objectives of the Constitution of Kenya were noble, the way it is structured to fulfil its objectives relies on the integrity of a lot of people.

This makes it very difficult to get an impartial process – at least in the eyes and ears of the average Kenyan.

They have heard and seen a lot of corruption and favouritism in the public service even when the leadership avers that there is none.

The reality is that the stories doing the rounds quietly in Kenya whether true or not are not very positive on the uprightness of those who lead us in the public service.

The processes of vetting and removal have completely lost their credibility and we seem to be quietly sliding back to the olden days.

This is not good for Kenya

As Kachumbari says, one step forward and two steps back is not a good place to be in..

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