Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has launched a passionate defense of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s refusal to appoint six out of the 41 judges recommended for superior courts.
According to Munya, the President is elected by the people and cannot therefore just approve every decision made by other institutions without carrying out his own evaluation, especially on matters of great public interest.
“President Kenyatta has not committed any mistake. Names were brought to him; he went through them and he noticed some of them have issues. It is up to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to carry out further scrutiny on those who were omitted,” Munya told a meeting in Mbeere South over the weekend.
Amid widespread condemnation of the move by the Head of State, specifically by Former Chief Justices Dr. Willy Mutunga and David Maraga, Munya insists the President acted within his constitutional mandate.
He asserts that the drafters of the Constitution knew why they inserted a clause indicating that such appointments must be approved by the President. Otherwise, Munya observes, such names would be gazetted immediately after nomination if the Head of State had no role.
“I hear people say the President has no power and that once given a list (of nominees), he just needs to gazette them. Which constitution says that, and what kind of constitution says that?” He posed.
“If indeed that is how the 2010 Constitution was drafted, then we made a huge mistake. How can you say that a President elected by the people doesn’t have any power? If people, let’s say cartels, collude and bring him a list, you want to say he just needs to sign and gazette the list? Is he just a rubber stamp?” He charged
The outspoken CS insists that a commission or a body constituted by persons appointed to serve cannot be more powerful than an elected Head of State. He says even advanced democracies do not operate in such a manner.
He wonders why a section of political leaders and lawyers are castigating the President yet all he did was to refer the matter back to the JSC for further review.
“I studied law and I am an accomplished lawyer and that is not my understanding of the Constitution. The President must go behind every name presented to him to confirm suitability to serve in public office,” He reiterated
He hit back at persons criticizing President Kenyatta’s move terming them ‘the real dictators.’ He says autocrats are persons who have been trying to intimidate the President from running the affairs of the country as he deems appropriate.
“The real danger our democracy faces is where people who have no mandate from the people are usurping power. They capture the Judicial arm of government and then intimidate the other arms of government so that they are not able to do their work,” A tough-talking Munya lamented