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The three State arms must work together

Saturday January 25 2020

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The thawing of relations between the Judiciary and the Executive is vital for the rule of law.

Constitutionally, the three arms of government — the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary — are independent but interdependent.

Never should they be cosy with each other. Each operates autonomously with an express mandate.

But that does not mean they have to be antagonistic. This is what has been obtaining between the Executive and the Judiciary.

This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta, the head of the Executive, met and engaged in candid discussion with Chief Justice David Magara, the head of the Judiciary, and both agreed to a truce and to work together.

There are fears, though, that the rapprochement could undermine the independence of the Judiciary. We hope that will not happen.


What was happening between the two arms of government was caustic.

The Executive has been berating the Judiciary and, to show might, resorted to starving it of cash to derail its operations.


The Judiciary has suffered major budget cuts in recent years and the result is paralysis.

To show Executive authority, President Kenyatta has refused to appoint judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission, exacerbating staff shortage in the courts.

In response, Justice Maraga in November last year tore into the Executive and made it known to the whole world that the Judiciary was under siege.

But that seemed to inflame passions, as the Executive reacted with further budget cuts. All these have not helped anybody.

Which is why we advocate a structured engagement among the arms of the government, while keeping distance from and respect for each other.

The agencies have to consult and discuss issues openly and candidly. For the Judiciary, and away from the frosty relations with the Executive, there are internal and professional matters that have to be tackled.


First, the failure by the courts to expeditiously conclude corruption cases is a setback to the war against the vice.

And this has spawned a narrative that the Judiciary is the weak link in the anti-graft campaign.

Granted, some cases have been slowed down by poor prosecution, but there are many clear and straightforward cases that ought to be concluded quickly.

Further, some rulings bring to question the integrity of the judicial officers. Second, the backlog of cases is a disservice to the rule of law.

Third, the Judiciary’s defensive posture when confronted about its lapses is duplicitous. The three arms must coexist and support each other to achieve respective mandates.