President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated that there will be no sacred cows in the purge against corruption and abuse of office under his administration.
Speaking during the 7th annual Conference of Constitutional Commissions and Independent Offices at Meru National Polytechnic, President Kenyatta said all those entrusted with public offices must be accountable to Kenyans.
His sentiments came after Attorney-General Paul Kihara vowed that ‘under my watch, nobody will be above the law’ in bid to back the presidents war on corruption.
The conference bringing together all constitutional commissions and independent offices, and which came to a close yesterday, was themed ‘Public participation: Pathway to sustainable development’.
Mr Kenyatta said public participation is key to sustainable development as the process keeps government officers accountable to Kenyans.
While noting that the commissions had recorded various successes in the implementation of the constitution, President Kenyatta said more needed to be done to adhere to the rule of law.
“The constitution has given the commissions and independent offices the security of tenure and freedoms to enable them perform without fear. However, the freedom is balanced by accountability to the people” the president said.
He warned the commissioners against hiding behind the freedoms and security of tenure, provided by the constitution, to abuse offices.
“Constitutional commissions and independent offices are not a third branch of the government. No one is above criticism and accountability. This is why public participation should not be viewed as an act of grace. It is a necessity for an effective government,” he said.
President Kenyatta said public participation is meant to give an opportunity to government bodies to tap into the wisdom of Kenyans.
“The government does not enjoy monopoly of ideas. The constitutional commissions and independent offices should lead by example,” Mr Kenyatta said.
The president further warned politicians against engaging in 2022 politics saying Kenyans were interested in development.
“Kenyans want to know what the government is doing for them. They want to know about housing, electricity, roads and other development projects. Kenyans are not interested in daily politics,” President Kenyatta said.
He said his development agenda was a product of public participation which he said should not be a mere exercise meant to record compliance with the law.
The president directed the Attorney General to incorporate the views collected during the constitutional commissions and independent offices conference are incorporated in the public participation bill which is set to be approved by the cabinet.
The Teachers Service Commission chairperson who is also the forum chairperson Dr Lydia Nzomo said the three day conference was meant to look into better ways of engaging the public in government programmes and legislation.
“Frequently, those who mobilise for public participation use approaches which may not give the desired impact, many times just for the purpose of ticking the box to show it happened. Kenyans need to know they have a constitutional right to participate in governance and other administrative issues,” Dr Nzomo said.
The TSC chair noted the need for all government institutions to actively engage Kenyans and avoid pushing ‘programmes down their throat’.
“We admit that enough public participation has not been done by various government bodies. The conference is meant to evaluate the challenges and seek best practices for public engagement. Going forward, there is need to correct past mistakes,” she said.
Dr Nzomo said public participation is a vital tenet of the constitution which is meant to give Kenyans a sense of belonging and trust in government projects.
She said engaging the public would help increase credibility between public officers and communities besides promoting transparency.
President Kenyatta also officially opened the refurbished Meru County Assembly chambers and presided over the issuance of cheques to women groups under the women enterprise fund.