New Cabinet Secretaries jobs now hangs in the balance after a suit was filed on Thursday asking the court to find that President Uhuru Kenyatta defied its orders on two third gender rule.
The High Court last year faulted that the President for overlooking two third gender rule and ordered he should ensure that a third of the position go to either men or women in the new appointments or else it would disband it.
Centre for Rights Education and Awareness moved again to court arguing that the current cabinet does not reflect compliance of court orders should not carry out any business or even its members earn until the case is heard and determined. Out of the 23 CSs the head of State picked for his second term, 17( 73.9 percent) are men, women are six.
“To the extent that the Cabinet fails the test of legality under Article 27(8) then as established is in violation of the Article and hence any action, decision, policy or directive made by the Cabinet as a body or the individual Cabinet Secretaries are a nullity in law,” lawyer Waikwa Wanyoike, for CREAW said. The lobby argues that the right composition ought to have either gender being 66.7 percent. High Court judge Joseph Onguto last year in his declaration said that the constitution has to be followed to the letter regardless whether it is appointive or elective positions in Government. The judge said that the law of the land does not have a softer spot for the President and the August House and thus they too ought to ensure that their actions were above reproach. “A declaration is hereby issued that the President has acted in contravention of the Constitution in nominating, appointing and maintaining a Cabinet that does not meet the two third gender requirement,” ruled Justice Onguto. He added: “The national Assembly acted in violation of the constitution by approving the nominees when it was clear that it would effectively result in violation of the rule of law.”
The judge had deferred his final verdict on whether to disband the previous Cabinet noting that elections were just eight months away and it would be difficult for the Government to operate without it for the short period. He ruled: “The suspension should be for a period of eight months or until such a time a new Cabinet will be constituted either by the present Government or a newly elected Government to be elected into office on August 2017.” CREAW told the court that it served the AG with the decree and reminded him to advice the President that he should comply. The law requires that no more than two- thirds persons taking up elective or appointed positions in a Government body be of the same gender. However President Kenyatta has only six women CSs, which translates 26.1 percent. The Cabinet as currently constituted has 26 members, who include the President, his Deputy and Attorney General Kihara Kariuki. The lobby argue that the Head of State and the August House are in breach of the same law that was trying to cure women underrepresentation in key Government positions.
Source: The Standard Newspaper, by Kamau Muthoni