Kenyan Diaspora Alliance Calls for Open Advertising of Positions of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions
February 9, 2011 1 Comment
The Diaspora Alliance, its corporate members listed below representing over 80% of all Kenyan Diaspora belonging to organized global organizations, calls for the retraction of the nominees for the positions of Chief Justice, Attorney-General and Deputy Public Prosecutor, and immediate setting into motion a transparent, credible way for recruitment that entails public advertisement and short-listing by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), before submitting the names to the President and Prime Minister for selection, and ultimately parliament for vetting before final appointment.
The Alliance is VERY disappointed that in the nomination of candidates for these positions the President who swore to defend the constitution has, essentially broken the very supreme law. It is quite clear that either the Prime Minister, the President (or both) are lying about the consultative process – or lack thereof – that preceded these nominations.
It is notable that the body charged with overseeing the implementation of the new constitution, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the body whose main function is to recommend eligible people to the President and Prime Minister for appointment as judges, as well as the High Court itself have declared the nominations illegal and against both the letter and the spirit of the law.
The Diaspora Alliance recognizes the vitality and sanctity of the judiciary, contending that while we can live with under-performing executive and legislature, no society can survive with a discredited judiciary like we have.
Public Action of Leadership must be for the common good
It is important for the leadership to note that powers of the Executive (also Judiciary and Legislature) are OF THE PEOPLE, only delegated to them! As per the Preamble of the new Constitution: the very first Article (1) states “all sovereign power belong to the people of Kenya …”. Thus any appointment by the President must be ‘on behalf of the people’. So, when the designated institutions along with the general public through the mass-media themselves are saying “do this transparently and fairly through the JSC” [and the voice of God is the voice of the people], the leadership needs to listen.
Various recent actions by the country’s leadership do not appear to have the welfare of the ordinary people of Kenya at heart, disregarding the supremacy of the people and the expectation for public officers to act in a manner that:-
i) demonstrates respect for the people,
ii) brings honour to the nation and dignity to the office,
iii) promotes confidence in the integrity of the office, and
iv) iv) vests the responsibility to serve the people rather than the power to rule over them (as in Article 73 of the new constitution).
In selective interpretation of the law, some commentators on this outrageous action have reduced this issue to competition between the two principles, forgetting that the Transitional Provisions are largely to help us wade through the murky ‘Coalition Government’ days – and also complete the stages for katiba implementation.
Article 24(2) of Schedule 6 often quoted was simply to ensure that in so appointing the Chief Justice, it is recognized that the ‘Presidency’ in this interim period includes also the Premiership. But it must be read with Article 166 (1) of the Constitution which states inter alia: “The President shall appoint the CJ and Deputy CJ in accordance with the recommendation of the JSC, and with the approval of the National Assembly.” The transitional provision oft selectively quoted doesn’t whatsoever negate the requirement for the JSC to be involved. Otherwise, the functions of the JSC would have been watered down; as a matter of fact the 1st and main function of the JSC [Article 172(1)(1)] is “to recommend to the President persons to appoint as judges”, and of course that includes the Chief “Judge” – the CJ!
We believe that Kenya is for all Kenyans, and that in this spirit, inclusiveness is important in all public appointments. It is therefore worrisome that the President overlooked women, youth and the Kenyan Diaspora – which contributes the largest portion of foreign exchange earnings by far, compared to any other sectors of the economy – in these appointments. Indeed, the nominee for the position of Attorney-General, Githu Muigai, is so insensitive to the rights of the Kenyan Diaspora that he opposed the registration of Kenyans abroad during the last year’s referendum on the new constitution.
Besides, as per Article 23 of Schedule 6, all judges to be reappointed must be first vetted. In effect, even if: i) the President had consulted the Prime Minister, ii) women, Diaspora, etc had been included, the action would still have been unconstitutional.
At any rate nothing in Schedule 6 itself prohibits the President and Prime Minister from inviting applications from qualified, eligible persons for these seats. As a matter of fact, had we been truly born anew, this is what good governance would entail!
Criteria for Appointments
The Next Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions should be of impeccable integrity, credibility and beyond reproach. They must possess known credentials for fighting for and defending justice, democracy and the rule of law. Kenya needs and deserves judicial officers who at a minimum:-
1. Have exemplary transformative vision to overhaul the judicial system and permanently institutionalize the rule of law, service to the people, independence from the politics of the day, intolerant to tribalism, and proven abhorrence to corruption and sloth;
2. Judicial leaders whose professional and personal philosophy is discernible and preferably known to Kenyans. This can be found in speeches, articles, books, court proceedings, and other related past activities.
3. Genuine reformers who can lead by example, with this quality demonstrated by past actions – e.g. making rulings that show they can defy the executive or by assisting and being part of the struggle against past and present dictatorships and the subsequent fight for constitutional reforms from the dark days. Anyone without this hallmark must be told that they are unfit to lead Kenya through the next phase of the struggle, as such are people who will vary positions on the basis of tribe, political persuasion or brown envelopes and therefore cannot restore the sorely needed public confidence in the justice systems.
4. Change masters who can mobilize and motivate the troops. Cleaning the judiciary will require self sacrifice in the sense that many people who are used to lifestyles based on 5 or even 10 times their salaries are going to adjust to new circumstances. A lot of the judicial officers are still going to continue with the old way of ‘kitu kidogo’ while they preach water. The new Chief Justice and Attorney General must be capable of managing change, and transforming human behaviour without losing the morale and cooperation of those under their charge–for they cannot transform the judiciary by decree or through moral preaching alone. The new AG and CJ must be adept at creating a sense of purpose and a larger raision d’etre in the mission statement of Kenya’s new judicial system – one imbued with integrity, independence, transparency, ethics and professionalism.
The Process Must Free, Fair, Transparent and Participatory
Kenyans deserve transparent criteria for choosing nominees for those to be vetted by parliament. Kenyans deserve a chance to put the hard questions to those nominated– for example what their visions are, what specific plans they have in overhauling the judiciary, what has been their role in the struggle for democracy and above all, they must sign a “promissory note” committing to the people of Kenya that the buck will stop with them, that they will take personal responsibility for failure to deliver and they will honourably step aside even if there is a whiff of suspicion or if Kenyans do not see tangible improvement within one year.
This is not something just for the President and Prime Minister, or PNU and ODM for that matter to negotiate and horse-trade about. The truth is that today, the majority of Kenyans belong to neither of these groups; these positions are even more for the sake of future generations who know no parties than today’s.
Reclaiming the Space from the Political Elite
Part of the problem with our country is the manner in which a few individuals believe that the country belongs to them only. On the other hand there is a misplaced obsession with highlighting the fights among “political titans” as opposed to ordinary Kenyans’ fight for a “Just Society of Men” (as engraved in Parliament’s Chambers)!
We ask a few questions:-
a) Why do we have a great constitution yet allow people in position to defy the same that they took oath to protect. How safe is one as a Kenyan that his or her rights are protected when the President himself breaks the law with great abandon?
b) Why do we take hard options in deciding pertinent matters of state (like appointments) yet we have crystal clear guidelines, men and women of honour, resources, resolve and intellect to follow procedure as is?
c) Why should we always start by doing the opposite of what we ought to do, then turn around just to score political points or otherwise?
It is disappointing and dangerous that a country with as much potential and ability as ours should be run in so inappropriate a manner.
The Diaspora Alliance calls upon the governing principals to follow the constitution and the law in running the country, and to put the interests of Kenyans first. Moving forward, we demand the following :-
i) Withdrawal of the nominees for the positions of CJ, AG and DPP, and immediately setting into motion a transparent, credible way for recruitment that entails public adverts and JSC short-listing, before submitting the names to the President and Prime Minister for selection, and ultimately parliament for vetting before final appointment. What would be wrong if JSC or even the relevant parliamentary committee advertised the posts – and extended the same to Embassies so that qualified Kenyan Diaspora too applied? Instead of ‘thinking big’, we seem to fancy ‘thinking small’. Instead of leaving it to ‘only the 2 people’ (call them principals), why not open it up to the 40 million Kenyans? They can’t be more wrong!
ii) We accordingly recommend that the 3 judicial officers all be excluded from any future consideration for these offices as they have failed the first test of credibility and integrity. If they were worth their salt and to be trusted custodian’s of the rule of law in Kenya, they should have promptly declined these nominations even without prompting, given the unconstitutionalities.
iii) Kenya’s leadership has to rededicate itself to the purpose and spirit of the new constitution, lest we have a document that is not even worth the ink it was written on.
Member Organizations of the Diaspora Alliance:-
Diaspora Movement of Kenya (DMK)
Institute for African Democracy, Development & Sovereignty (IADDS)
Kenya Advocacy Group (KAG)
Kilimo Foundation for Corruption and Poverty Eradication (KCPE)
Kenyans for Change (K4C)
Kenya Global Unity (KGU)
Madaraka People’s Movement
New Vision Kenya – Mageuzi (NVK-M)
About the Diaspora Alliance
The Diaspora Alliance’s vision is to see a just, free, prosperous and equitable Kenya, one in which social justice and the rule of law are entrenched in all the strata of Kenya’s society, especially in the institutions that affect public and personal life in our country.