Protest over premier’s job
Story by BERNARD NAMUNANE
11. March 2008
A storm is brewing over the powers of the Prime Minister after the
Head of the Civil Service revealed the structure of the new
coalition government Monday.
According to Mr Francis Muthaura, who is also the Secretary to the
Cabinet, the President will retain the powers to appoint the Prime
Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and Cabinet ministers under the
power-sharing agreement brokered by Mr Kofi Annan.
But a group allied to ODM immediately protested at the move by Mr
Muthaura saying he lacked the powers to interpret the
power-sharing deal between President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila
Odinga who is expected to be appointed as the Prime Minister.
Chair the Cabinet
Mr Muthaura had said: “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 also said that appointments to the public service, parastatals
and other constitutional bodies were not subject to the
power-sharing deal. According to him, such appointees were
expected to serve all Kenyans equally and their jobs could not be
But Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojodeh of ODM alleged that Mr Muthaura was
taking over the powers of Parliament by defining the roles of the
President, VP and PM.
Debate on a Bill to legalise the power-sharing agreement is
expected to start on the floor of Parliament this week.
“Muthaura has no powers to usurp the powers of Parliament,” Mr
Ojodeh said in an interview with the Nation.
However, Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo of ODM Kenya defended Mr
Muthaura arguing that the secretary to the Cabinet was discharging
“the administrative side” of the political deal signed between
President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga on February 28.
“Muthaura is not in any way interfering with the duty of
Parliament,” Mr Kilonzo said.
Earlier, Dr Amukowa Anangwe, Mr Salim Lone and former MPs Peter
Odoyo and Philip Okundi of ODM had said that Mr Muthaura had no
authority “to interpret the deal signed between President Kibaki
and Mr Odinga”.
Dr Anangwe said the National Accord states that: “The Prime
Minister shall have authority to co-ordinate and supervise the
execution of the functions and affairs of the Government,
including those of Ministries.”
According to him, the power sharing was at two levels: Cabinet and
Government, and that include the civil service and parastatals. He
also said any statement interpreting the content of the accord
must be jointly released by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.
Mr Muthaura spoke amid reports that ODM was likely to get a share
of key jobs in the public service, including those of permanent
secretaries, envoys, parastatal chiefs and in the judiciary among
Flanked by Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, Mr Muthaura said
that President Kibaki retained his responsibilities as the Head of
State and Government under the deal mediated by the former UN
All permanent secretaries and chairpersons of State corporations,
he added, will also be appointed by the President.
Mr Muthaura said the VP is the principal assistant of the
President and will retain his position as the Leader of Government
Business in Parliament. “This is a Constitutional provision and
you don’t expect the Prime Minister to supervise the work of the
Vice President,” he said.
Last week, several ODM leaders, including nominated MP Joseph
Nyaga, had said that the job of Leader of Government Business in
Parliament should be left to the Prime Minister, who will also be
leader of the party or coalition with majority of MPs in
But Monday, Mr Muthaura sought to clarify the structure of the new
government after speculation over the roles to be played by
political leaders under the new arrangement.
He said that the structure he was outlining was in line with the
National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement that has now been
transformed into a Bill to be debated in Parliament.
Describing the PM post as key in the efficiency of Government
affairs, Mr Muthaura said the holder of the job will coordinate
the operations of Government and supervise the functions of
ministries under the authority of the President.
“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,” Mr Muthaura said.
He said that in line with the accord, Mr Odinga will recommend the
MPs to be appointed to the Cabinet “and the President will decide.”
According to him, the power-sharing deal did not touch on the
civil service which, he said, was based on professionalism and not
political considerations. He warned that any moves to divide the
public service along party lines would adversely affect delivery
“The Accord does not include sharing of jobs in the public service.
Appointments in the public service are governed by the
Constitution or Acts of Parliament,” he said.
Divide public service
“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.”
But he added that other chief executives of parastatals and boards
of directors will be appointed by respective ministers.
ODM had been reported to have been demanding a share of permanent
secretaries, ambassadors and other top jobs as part of the