How judges ruined President Kenyatta’s appetite at prayer breakfast

President Uhuru Kenyatta at the national prayer breakfast, yesterday

By Jackson Kairu

President Uhuru Kenyatta is probably the most harassed Kenyan leader ever. Barely a day after he presided over the 18th National Breakfast and chose to ignore pleas for reconciliation with his deputy William Ruto, judges have yet again thrown the spanner in the works! The courts quashed the appointment of 129 heads of State corporations and board members, completely ruining the appetite of the president who was attending the 18th National Prayer Breakfast.

In a ruling delivered by a three-judge bench, the court said the appointments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet secretaries in 2018 are invalid and unconstitutional. Justices Jessie Lesit, Chacha Mwita and Lucy Njuguna said the appointments were illegal, lacked transparency and competitiveness, contrary to Article 232 of the Constitution on the values and principles of public service.

Judges declared that state appointments made by the president since 2018 to BBI were illegal thereby setting the stage for yet another protracted and expensive round of court appeals likely only to enrich lawyers

The court added that the Attorney-General failed to demonstrate that there was fair competition and merit as the basis of the appointments. Further, the court said there was no demonstration that in the appointments, there was a representation of Kenya’s diverse communities, nor adequate opportunity in terms of gender, members of all ethnic groups and persons with disabilities. “The requirements made in the Constitution (Article 232) was after views of Kenyans were collected during the Constitution-making of the Constitution 2010. People of Kenya wanted to see transparent appointments and officers capable of guiding public wealth, not political patronage,” said the judges.

 Judges declared that state appointments made by the president since 2018 to BBI were illegal thereby setting the stage for yet another protracted and expensive round of court appeals likely only to enrich lawyers arguing cases on both sides. Meanwhile, time is running out as Uhuru prepares to step down in August 2022.

The court jinx appears set to pursue Kenya’s 4th president to his retirement August 2022, and some watchers are warning the growing storm could have far-reaching consequences. Uhuru’s first fierce clash with the judiciary was when his alleged victory in the August 8 2017 presidential election was overturned by the supreme court chaired by now-retired chief justice David election victory. After a precedent-setting 10 day hearing of the presidential petition from opposition leader Raila Odinga, Maraga ruled that the elections had been marred by “too many irregularities and illegalities” as to make the outcome neither free nor fair and therefore “null and void”

Former Chief Justice David Maraga twice took on the president accusing him of slashing judiciary budgetary allocation, stalling expansion and establishment of courts and refusing to appoint judges saying “he had no such powers” under the constitution!

A fuming President Uhuru and his deputy Ruto, vowed to fix the judiciary with the famous “we shall re-visit” though we accept the decision from the “wakora” (crooks)! Although Uhuru went on to win the repeat poll boycotted by Raila, his regime now in its sunset has had uneasy relations with the judiciary he accuses of dragging cases on mega corruption in which taxpayers have lost billions, But judges accuse Uhuru of failing to appoint 43 judges forwarded from the judicial service commission 2 years ago creating case overload for lack of judges.

As he prepared to step down early this year, a bitter Maraga twice took on the president accusing him of slashing judiciary budgetary allocation, stalling expansion and establishment of courts and refusing to appoint judges saying “he had no such powers” under the constitution! The Kenya constitution does not “donate” such powers to the president of revoking names of judges cleared by JSC. But Uhuru kept a studious silence leaving his attorney general Nathan Kihara to throw the ball back to Maraga accusing him of “playing to the gallery” saying some of the shortlisted JSC had some questionable integrity issues which have never been made public!

Maraga has retired but his colleagues at the High Court appear determined to walk in his footsteps and refuse to be cowed by the Executive. As this blow from the courts sunk in, President Uhuru Kenyatta ignored calls by his deputy Dr William Ruto to “reconcile” ahead of the Kiambaa by-election.

Disappointed jubilee supporters took to Twitter agreeing with Ruto’s appeal to reconcile and heed calls by clerics at the Prayer Breakfast to abandon BBI now before the courts, saying it was not a priority as Kenyans face more pressing economic issues.

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