Uhuru directs AG to fast-track law on conflict of interest

Written By: Sanuel Musita/Claire Wanja

"One cannot serve as a legislator at the National or County Level while at the same time practicing law, whether or not for gain. " Said president Uhuru

The representation of Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko in a corruption case by two senators seems to have caught the eye of the president Uhuru Kenyatta who has now directed the attorney general to fastrack the law of conflict of interest.

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The president in his speech during the celebration of the 56 Jamhuri day termed such actions as profound conflict of interest.

The constitution according to the president is very clear on the matter as it forbids public and state officers from practicing their professions privately.

On assumption of state office or public office, the officers become the trustees of the people; with a constitutional, statutory and moral duty to administer public affairs and resources in fidelity with the law, and strictly for the benefit of the people. State and public officers are not above law.  Our constitutional order is a jealous one; it demands that state and public officers serve no other master but it. A teacher in the Public Service cannot have one foot in the classroom and the other in Parliament.  One cannot serve as a legislator at the National or County Level while at the same time practicing law, whether or not for gain.” He said.  

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“In the same way, judges and magistrates cease completely any legal practice while in office, similarly doctors, engineers, accountants and other professionals who take up state or public office, should give up private practice and devote their full time, energies and focus on public duties; and without the perception that they are using state or public office as a mere platform to advance other interests.” He added.

He wondered if it was right for legislators who have control over funds and exercise oversight over judiciary to appear in court claiming to represent a client.

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Is it fair and right for legislators who have control over funds and exercise oversight over the Judiciary to appear in courts as counsel?  Is it fair on the judicial officer hearing the case or the other parties that, one party in the case is represented by persons who can literally change the law applicable to the dispute, control the career progression of the judge or magistrate or are able to speak with the voice of an entire arm of Government?” He asked.

The position is simple; you either serve the public in the role you signed up for or you serve the republic as a private practitioner; it is a profound conflict of interest to do both.” He said.

The president also used the occasion to reiterate the government commitment in the fight against corruption. He said the war on corruption will go on until the country gets rid of public and state officers who use their privileged positions to loot public funds.

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The war on corruption according to the president will not even spare judges and magistrate who he said will not be allowed to hide under the veil of independence and autonomy.

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The war on corruption will continue until we weed out from our midst, those who abuse the privileges of their office for personal benefit.  No magistrate or judge, or any other state or public officer, who has abused the public trust should be allowed to hide behind the veil of autonomy and independence.  I, therefore, direct the Attorney-General to fast-track the submission to Cabinet for approval and transmittal to Parliament, the Law on Conflict of Interest, which has been subject to stakeholders consultation.” He noted.




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