On 26th of January 2017, the President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, in a statement to newsrooms announced his new cabinet comprising of, Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries and Principal Secretaries. Part of the list of new cabinet appointees has been forwarded to parliament for vetting.
Of all the nominees, there is no youth. Further, out of the whole proposed cabinet composition, only one person with disability has been nominated as a Principal Secretary. The percentage of women in all the cabinet position remains grossly below the constitutionally stipulated percentage. Worse still, it has retrogressed rather than progress contrary to Article 27 (8) of the Constitution. Whereas in 2013, the percentage of women nominated for the Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary positions was 30% and 36% respectively, the percentages in the current list of nominees have dwindled to a merger 28.5% and 27.8% respectively. Exacerbating the situation, regional imbalance is out-rightly glaring with 2 out of the 43 Kenyan tribes scooping 59% of the cabinet positions.
The list of nominees reeks of pungent discrimination on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity and gender. The list flies in the face of paragraph 3 of the preamble, articles 3, 10 (b), 27, 54(2), 55 (b) and 131(2) of the Constitution and Section 10 of the Public Service (Values and Principles) Act. It cannot and should not be allowed pass in a democratic state like ours which is based values including inclusivity, equality and non-discrimination.
We, the youth, persons with disabilities, women and Kenyan from diverse ethnic backgrounds, condemn the President’s nominations, which fall far outside the coordinates of the Constitution. We note that it is embarrassing and saddening in equal measure that twice, the President has taken oath to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution, but has gone ahead to patently and openly contravene its most basic tenets.
In his various addresses to the state, the President has reiterated that he is a president of all Kenyans and not selected Kenyans; a symbol of national unity mandated under article 131(2) (c) & (d) of the Constitution to promote and enhance unity of the people, promote respect for diversity of the people and Communities of Kenya and to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. It is utterly shocking that the same is not reflected in his actions. It begs the question whether he indeed is a symbol of national unity or that of a selected polity for which we youth, persons with disability, women and Kenyans from certain regions do not belong.
The President, purportedly acting on recommendations of the Public Service Commission, has gone ahead to create the positions of Chief Administrative Secretaries in the Cabinet. Judging from the general and specific job descriptions of the Chief Administrative Secretaries, they rank higher than Principal Secretaries, a development that was not envisioned in the Constitution. Had people of Kenya wanted representatives higher in hierarchy than the principal Secretaries, it could have been easier to include the same in the constitution.
We strongly condemn the move by the president to manipulate the Constitution by reincarnating the order associated with the old constitutional dispensation (i.e. Minister- Assistant Minister- Permanent secretary). Such unconstitutional move must be arrested immediately. We know that the Chief Administrative Secretaries positions were created purposely as consolation prices for the President’s allies who lost in the August 8 2017 General Elections and not for nation building . It is for this reason that the positions were never publicly advertised to give room for competitive selection contrary to article 232 of the Constitution. Kenyans denounces the redundant positions under the current constitutional dispensation and we still refuse to be burdened by the huge wage bill attendant to superfluity. We further note that the nominations of the chief administrative secretaries is marred with discrimination as elucidated above.
We the youth, persons with disability, women and Kenyans from diverse ethnic backgrounds recognize all that the all the groups are capable of ably taking up leadership roles in our country. We aspire for a government based on human rights, equality, inclusivity, social justice and the rule of law.
Therefore, we demand:
- That the President recalls the gravely flawed list and resubmits a list that strictly adheres to the Constitution dictates with emphasis on inclusivity.
- That the judiciary shows its fidelity to the rule of law and quashes these unconstitutional appointments
United Disabled Persons of Kenya
Youth Alive! Kenya
The Centre for Rights Education and Awareness
The Kenya Human Rights Commission
National Gender and Equality Commission
Kenya Women Parliamentary Association
The Youth Congress
Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya
International Commission of Jurist- Kenya