The Kenya Human Rights Commission continues to maintain a keen eye on various appointments and nominations ongoing in the current government. Previously, we have pointed out how the government has blatantly ignored constitutional provisions on inclusion in the appointment of Cabinet Secretaries and nomination of Members of the County Assemblies, among others. With the current National Assembly Committee leadership positions, we note a trend of the breach of the two-thirds gender rule and the ethnic balance requirement.
Article 27(3) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that all men and women have a right to equal opportunities in political, economic and social spheres. During the recently concluded elections campaigns, President Ruto made a declaration to ensure the actualization of the two-third gender rule in accordance with Article 27 (8) of the Constitution of Kenya, which provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. However, the President has continuously failed to honour this constitutional requirement and his commitment to achieve a 50:50 gender balance in the appointments and nominations. In addition, the President signed the charter of inclusion which clearly has been ignored in the National Assembly Committee Leadership appointments.
Noteworthy, the history of our country was an important factor during the drafting of our Constitution. Both the Krigler Commission and the Waki reports that largely informed the drafting of the Constitution and various other statutes make reference to ethnic imbalance and discrimination against marginalized communities as a trigger to the post-election violence in 2008. Inclusion is a national value espoused in Article 10 of the Constitution. Various constitutional provisions emphasize the need to embrace our ethnic diversity in appointments made in the government. Therefore, upholding our Constitution and ensuring ethnic diversity in government appointments is a part of fostering stability in our nation.
The latest list of appointments to the National Assembly leadership and the Principal Secretaries nominations have been the boldest disregard for the principles of inclusivity encompassed in Article 10 of the Constitution. Out of the 25 National Assembly Committee Chairpersons, 24 are men. Furthermore, 12 out of the 25 appointments come from the previous Rift Valley Province. Some regions, like the Coast and North-Eastern areas, are not represented, while the Eastern and Nyanza regions have one representative each. Nairobi and Western regions have two representatives each, while the rest of the slots have been awarded to the former Central region.
The biggest share of the recent nomination slots for the Principal Secretaries have been given to Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities as happened with the appointments of Cabinet Secretaries. 13 appointees to the Principal Secretary position come from the Kalenjin Community and another 13 appointees from the Kikuyu Community with 9 other communities getting minimal representation and the bigger number of other communities have been left out. This is unjust given that Kenya has 45 communities most of which have historically suffered from discrimination, especially by the ruling class. Additionally, out of the possible 51 Principal Secretaries, only 11 women were nominated while persons with disabilities were left out. The President has set a very dangerous precedent in which the rule of law has been completely ignored in all the nominations and appointments.
Article 131 (1) (e) envisages the President as a symbol of national unity, representing Kenyans across all divides. The above nominations are a clear indication that the President is still in the election and campaign mode, failing to understand his role as the President and the pillar of unity. The continuous and deliberate marginalization of other communities from decision-making spaces is retrogressive and endangers the spirit of national cohesion and integration.
WE DEMAND THAT:
- All arms of government, starting with the President, to respect, uphold and protect the Constitution.
- All arms of government to effectively discharge their duty of oversight by ensuring checks and balances, and in this case, to act accordingly in holding each other accountable as provided for in the Constitution and other statutes.
- The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) hold the executive and legislative arms to account for their failure to uphold the Constitution and especially the values, principles and rights related to inclusivity, equity, equality, non-discrimination, national unity, public participation, integrity, accountability, the rule of law and fair administrative justice.
- The President to recall the nominations and strive to meet the required constitutional threshold on community inclusion as well as special interest groups.
Lastly, the KHRC calls upon the people of Kenya, the civil society, and media to demand for a balanced leadership at the national and county levels and to remain eternally vigilant in monitoring and responding to the government’s unabated and flagrant violation of the Constitution in key decisions.