The Law Society of Kenya, and Katiba Institute, a civil society that promotes implementation of the constitution, challenged President William Ruto’s appointments, arguing that he appointed 50 new top government officials against an approved 23 positions.
“There is an imminent threat of infringement of the constitution if the interested parties proceed to assume office,” Dan Okemwa, lawyer representing both groups, said in court.
After hearing the application last week, the court ruled that President Ruto’s appointees, also referred to as assistant ministers, will only assume office after the petition is heard and determined. This came a day after they were sworn in.
March 24, 2023
“I am satisfied that interim conservatory orders are necessary,” said Justice Hedwig Ong’undi.
The two institutions were guided by article three of Kenya’s Constitution, which states that anyone can petition to the courts to reject any unconstitutional appointment or formation of a new office.
Rewarding political allies
Ruto’s appointments reward his political loyalists, primarily those who were defeated when they vied for various political seats last year, Kevin Ochol, a political analyst in Nairobi, tells The Africa Report.
“This was expected. Ruto promised his allies jobs, and he has to fulfil his word,” he says.
Among the loyalists appointed include former senator Millicent Omanga, Ruto’s digital strategist Dennis Itumbi, and former opposition governor Evans Kidero.
In February, the opposition heavily criticised Deputy President Rigathi Gachgua when he said that the Ruto-led administration would only appoint political allies. He described the Kenya Kwanza regime as a limited company that benefits the few.
However, by appointing election losers from opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, Ochol says the incumbent is on a mission to create new political allies, ahead of the 2027 polls.
“Ruto is working hard to get political support from regions that did not vote for him in 2022,” he says.
Ordinary Kenyans financing bloated executive
Despite the weekly protests organised by the opposition over the high cost of living, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission bumped up the appointees’ gross monthly salary from KSh765,000 ($5,800) to KSh780,000 ($5,925) after the appointment.
The new government officials will also be entitled to two government vehicles, security detail accompanying them in Nairobi and rural areas, as well as a personal assistant, all funded by taxpayers.
Opposition chief Raila Odinga has termed Ruto’s appointments as a waste of public funds, saying the resources should instead be used to alleviate the high cost of living.
“These are political rejects, this is not time to create offices and positions for them,” he reacted.READ MORE Kenya: Public uproar over $6m car purchases for President, deputy, & prime cabinet secretary
During the presidential campaigns, Ruto promised to appoint ordinary Kenyans, like Peter Njoroge, a boda boda (motorcycle) taxi driver in Nairobi, into his government, but he has reneged on his pledge.
“I will never trust a politician. Ruto, he surely lied to us. This is a government of the wealthy,” he tells The Africa Report.
Defending his appointments, however, Ruto said he was informed by his desire to bring the country together after a divisive election.
“I have appointed people who may not have necessarily voted for me, because the elections are behind us,” he said.
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