News 2008

 

Muthaura defines roles in new coalition administration



Daily Nation

Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE

10. March 2008



The Government has moved to define the powers of the President, Vice President and Prime Minister in the new coalition administration.

The Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura made the announcements this afternoon.

The announcements came as a committee made up of PNU and ODM members began its work of implementing contents of the National Accord and Reconciliation agreement that ended two months of a political crisis in the country.

The announcement of the coalition government structure preceded the resumption of Parliament’s business Tuesday where it is expected that MPs will move to shorten debate on the Presidential speech to give priority to two key Bills that will create the coalition government and the new posts of PM and two deputies.

Mr Muthaura said he had come out to spell the structure of the new government and the powers of the President, VP and PM to clear the doubts and different versions that had come up in the public following the signing of the deal.

He also spoke of the concern on the fate of jobs held by people appointed by the Government in line with the Constitution or statutes.

“There have been reports that have created concern on the roles of the Prime Minister, Government appointments and the structure of the Government following the national Accord and we have come here to make clarifications,” he said.

The structure that he was outlining, he explained, was in line with the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement that has now been transformed into a Bill to be debated in Parliament.

The announcement raffled feathers in ODM with Eldoret North MP William Ruto describing it “as a weighty matter” which the party will respond to in detail. “That is a weighty matter that cannot be responded to in an off cuff comment. The party will issue a statement in detail,” he said on the phone when contacted.

However Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojodeh (ODM) declared that Mr Muthaura was taking over the powers of Parliament by defining the roles of the President, VP and the PM. Mr Ojodeh went ahead to accuse the Head of Civil Service for going against the legal procedures and said the pronouncements of Mr Muthaura during a press conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) should be treated with the “contempt they deserve’.

“The National Accord is due for debate in Parliament this week and Muthaura has no powers to usurp the powers of Parliament. Muthaura’s announcement is an act of negation and could trigger executive manipulation to kill the spirit of the Accord,” he said.

“It is an abuse of the Parliamentary legal procedures and we demand that Muthaura desists from making such statements,” he added.

Flanked by Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, Mr Muthaura said that President Kibaki retained his slots as the Head of State and Government under the deal that was mediated by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The President, he said, also retains the powers to appoint the VP, the PM, deputy PMs and ministers subject to the terms that were clearly stated in the peace deal. “The Vice President, Prime Minister, deputy Prime Ministers and all ministers are directly responsible to the President. The President will continue to chair the Cabinet,” he said.

All permanent secretaries and chairpersons of state corporations, he added, will be appointed by the President.

Mr Muthaura said that the VP, who in terms of protocol comes second, is the principal assistant of the President and will retain his position as the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

“The VP, in terms of protocol, ranks higher than the Prime Minister. This is a Constitutional provision and you don’t expect the Prime Minister to supervise the work of the Vice President,” he explained.

Describing the soon-to-be created PM post as key in the efficiency of Government affairs, he said the premier will coordinate the operations of Government and supervise the functions of ministries under the authority of the President.

“The Prime Minister, who coordinate and supervise the Government functions, is going to be extremely important in the efficient running of the Government which is not an easy task,” he said.

The premier, who will have a ministry, will for instance take charge of inter-ministerial committees, ensure cabinet decisions on policies are implemented, form committees to evolve policy and ensure that ministries remain focused on the task ahead of them.

“Government work revolves around the Cabinet. The PM will come in handy in setting up inter-ministerial committees, following up on policy, sometimes developing the policy and ensuring ministries are kept in focus,” he explained.

In line with the Accord, he said that ODM leader, Mr Odinga will make recommendations of the MPs he wants to take up ministerial positions and leave the rest to the President.

“As regards the Cabinet, the ODM leader will make recommendations and the President will decide,” he said.

Mr Muthaura explained that the essence of the structure rotated around distribution of responsibilities in the broad government spectrum.

He said the Accord did not touch on the civil service which he said was based on the professionalism of office holders and not the political dynamics that were taking place in the country.

He stated that public servants are meant to serve all Kenyans equally in a non-partisan way and warned that any moves to divide the workforce along party lines will spell doom to delivery of services.

“The Accord does not include sharing of jobs in the public service.

Therefore it should be clear that appointments in the public service are governed by the Constitution or the Acts of Parliament,” he said.

“We cannot divide the public service. It is not about politics. It is about serving Kenyans equally regardless of their political standing. That is why the civil service cannot be partisan,” he explained.

That was why, said Mr Muthaura, all Constitutional office holders, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, judges of the High Court board chairpersons, and a few chief executives of parastatals will continue being appointed by the President.

He added that other chief executives of parastatals and boards of directors will be appointed by respective ministers.

“I wish to assure public servants that there is nothing to worry about the safety of their jobs or politicization of the public service. It is extremely important that while public servants embrace the implementation of the Accord, professionalism should be maintained and free from partisan politics,” he said.

 

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