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Meru Bar Association chairman challenges hiring of assembly clerk

Saturday June 27 2020
HSE

Meru County Assembly in session on August 14, 2018. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOSEPH WANGUI

Meru Bar Association Chairman Kenneth Muriuki has moved to court to challenge the appointment of County Assembly Clerk Jacob Kirari.

Mr Muriuki argues that the public Meru residents were not involved during the recruitment and appointment process.

In a 13-page petition, Mr Muriuki, says the recruitment and appointment of the clerk should be governed by the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Approval Act popularly known as the Vetting Act. 

He says in actualising the objectives and principles of devolution, the Constitution binds the county assembly to conduct business in an open manner and hold its sittings and those of its committees in public.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

 Mr Muriuki says that contrary to the salient constitutional and statutory provisions regarding public participation, there was no notification to the public on the shortlisted candidates. He says, there was no input from the public during the interview stage.

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“At no instance was the report that recommended Mr Kirari to be the clerk committed to any Committee of the County Assembly. Hence, the public which would have been facilitated pursuant to Section 7 of Public Appointments (County Assemblies Approval) Act, 2017 was grossly sidestepped," says the petitioner.

Apart from faulting how the County Assembly Service Board conducted the recruitment of Mr Kirari, in February this year, the petitioner adds that the five-member board that spearheaded the exercise failed to observe the two-thirds gender rule. The team had four men and one woman.

Mr Kirari, in his affidavit, says his appointment or that of a clerk of any legislative arm is not governed by the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Approval Act.

COMPETITIVE PROCESS

He says that contrary to the petitioner’s arguments, the Act is only applicable for nominations or appointments of the Executive arm of government which requires vetting of the County Assembly, in exercise of the Assembly's oversight role by checking excesses of the executive. 

“The statute only applies to appointments or nominations by the executive which the law does not require them to be carried out on a competitive basis. Therefore seeking to apply it in a competitively recruited positions such as that of Clerks, judges, CEOs or any other civil servant is a complete misnomer and a misdirection of the law,” says Mr Kirari. 

He adds that recruitment of clerk of a legislative arm is not a new phenomenon and therefore the process is clearly cut out, citing the situation of National Assembly's clerk Mr Micheal Sialai.

"In respect to the gender parity and gender compliance of the members of the County Assembly Service Board, the appointment of the board members is in fully compliant to the gender requirement as dictated by article 27 of the constitution and the law," says Mr Kirari. 

He states that his appointment was not only transparent but was also competitive as the position had been advertised in the Daily Nation newspaper of August 27, 2019.  

BEYOND REPROACH

“The appointment was beyond reproach in as far as the law and procedure is anything to go by, and it would be unfair to disturb a legal process and against the interest of Justice to remove me from the position am holding since I was interviewed by a properly constituted panel, approved by the whole House and duly sworn in," Mr Kirari says in his affidavit.

The matter will be mentioned on Monday at the High Court in Meru.


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