Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A LITMUS TEST FOR PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA

If what Mithika Linturi is telling Kenyans has traction, then Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is as good as roasted.

The Igembe South Member of Parliament is telling us that he has in his pocket enough parliamentary votes to send Waiguru home in what could be the first successful case of impeachment involving a Government Minister since independence.

In a rare show of bravado never seen in Kenya's political circus, the flamboyant legislator has snubbed all attempts by his seniors in the Jubilee Government led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, to persuade him to drop the Motion that seeks to punish Waiguru for allegedly violating the law. A meeting called by the President at State House this week failed to nudge the fiery politician into toeing the Jubilee line. He made it clear he would not be cowed.

From what we gather, Waiguru's biggest sin was her decision to send packing the National Youth Service Director Kiplimo Rugut, a Kalenjin, and replacing him with Dr. Nelson Githinji, a Kikuyu. In Kenya's divisive lingo, Waiguru, who is a Kikuyu, is guilty of tribalism.

Since then, the Rugut matter has dominated political discourse in the corridors of Parliament and in public fora, and is threatening unity in the Rift Valley, a vote-rich region that contributed immensely to the victory of the Jubilee Coalition in 2013.

It is not that Rugut was sacked altogether. No, he was only transferred to another department where he continues to serve albeit in a different role. Since the days of the colonial civil service, staff transfers in government have been viewed as routine carried out for a variety of reasons. As the official in charge of the National Youth Service, Waiguru was within her mandate to make the changes, even though Linturi and others think otherwise, citing the principle of regional distribution.

The Waiguru case is a litmus test for President Kenyatta. My worry is, if Waiguru is removed what will prevent other overzealous legislators from doing the same to other Cabinet Ministers? In my view, impeachment is not the answer to mismanagement problems. In any case, all Cabinet Secretaries were thoroughly vetted by Parliament and found suitable to serve.

This is not to say the National Assembly should be a sitting lame duck that ignores violations of the law by senior officials. However, as they carry out their constitutional oversight duties, legislators must not be seen to be attempting to destabilise the government, and cause more suffering to wananchi.

The time and energy spent over this matter could be put to better use in service delivery to Kenyans,

And that is my say.