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EACC clearance hitch at vetting of Trade PS nominee

Thursday February 20 2020

Mukhisa Kituyi with ambassador Johnson Weru

Unctad Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi is pictured with former ambassador Johnson Weru during opening of the Maritime Economists Workshop in Mombasa on September 12, 2018. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

STEVE OTIENO
By STEVE OTIENO
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The vetting of Johnson Weru, nominated for the position of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives principal secretary, was temporarily stopped on Thursday after it was found that he had not been cleared by the EACC.

A February 19 letter that was presented to the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives said Mr Weru's self-declaration form was yet to be submitted to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

"The commission requests that you submit self-declaration forms submitted by the following candidates pursuant to section 12A of the Leadership and Integrity Act 2012 to enable us finalise the process," the EACC's Chief Executive Officer, John Lolkoloi wrote.

The letter also requested the self-declaration form of Solomon Kitungu, another nominee for the job.

“I received a letter telling me to get clearance from the EACC. I called them for guidance and I was advised to fill the self-declaration form and take it to Huduma Centre. It was thereafter stamped by a lawyer and taken to theEACC. I did all this on February 14,” he explained.

WAY FORWARD

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Aldai MP Cornelly Serem, the committee's vice chair, asked what would happen since the document was unavailable.

Nambale MP John Bunyasi termed the lack of the document a "very serious issue" and suggested that the vetting be rescheduled.

Gichugu MP Robert Gichimu and Samburu North's Lentoimaga Alois opposed the suggestion and urged the committee to carry on with the vetting.

A closed-door meeting of the committee members decided that the vetting would proceed without the self-declaration form.

“We have agreed to proceed but you must bring the document to the committee before Monday next week,” the chair told Mr Weru.

EDUCATION

Amb Weru spent his early life in Laikipia and moved to Central Kenya for his secondary education.

He later graduated from the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in economics and the proceeded to study actuarial science at the ICDC.

He later attained a master’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Leeds in the UK.

Mr Weru has worked in several government offices including the Ministry of Planning and Development, where he was an economist and later, and the Treasury, where he lead projects aimed at enhancing public participation in government work.

He also worked in the Office of the Attorney-General, where he was part of the team that formed the Inter Parties Parliamentary Group.

WORK

Mr Were, who is married with four children, was not in the civil service from 1999 – 2001.

He left citing low pay and joined the academic space, working as a lecturer of economics and econometrics at the Catholic University of East Africa.

He returned to the civil service towards the end of 2001, under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, where he led projects in strengthening governance agencies.

Following the referendum in 2005, Mr Weru was appointed head of the economics and trade department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He was later appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, where he stayed for close to six years before he was redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the director of economic and diplomacy affairs.

COMMITMENT

The ambassador said he was committed to civil service and would not jump ship for a more lucrative private post should an opportunity arise.

“I believe compliance agencies such as Kebs and Kephis should be strengthened and allocated more resources to carry out their roles,” Mr Weru said in response to a question on how Kenya would deal with trade deficits in the global market.

Giving his thoughts on the recently proposed turnover tax, termed a patriotism tax, on small scale traders, Mr Weru said Treasury should be engaged on fiscal policies.

“There has to be a balance. The demand on the government to facilitate small traders is very high and security, energy and infrastructure are all supported by public funds. We must look for ways to breach the fiscal gap or cushion the negative impact of the particular tax, if any."

On youth unemployment, the nominee hailed the newly Competency Based Curriculum, terming it a big step in transforming learners from product consumers to producers.

He also pledged to ensure the people with disabilities get opportunities for active employment.

“I have a very special place in my heart for people living with disabilities. The People With Disabilities Bill was passed when I was in the Attorney-General’s office,” he said.

The vetting ended with the committee promising to follow up on the self-declaration form and table their reports after going through the nominee’s documents.

The report and the committee’s recommendations will the be tabled at the National Assembly for further discussion before the successful candidate is selected.