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UDA move throwback to the dark Kanu era

Thursday, April 4th, 2024 06:00 | By
PHOTOS: Ruto chairs UDA National Steering Committee meeting
PHOTOS: Ruto chairs UDA National Steering Committee meeting. PHOTO/PCS

The appointment of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) chair Anthony Mwaura to oversee President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) grassroots polls is as a troubling reminder of the dirty politics of the Kanu days.

Since 1992 when Kenya ended the one-party system and turned to multi-party democracy, there has been a clear demarcation between individuals holding public office and those in political positions.

This was further strengthened in 2010 through the promulgation of the current Constitution that put brakes on civil servants from either engaging or meddling in politics. The country has since 2010 gained tremendously on the divorce between party politics and public offices, a move that shielded civil servants from political interference and influence.

The 2010 Constitution entrenches a professional civil service, driven by integrity, objectivity and political impartiality.

But in a precedent setting move, on Tuesday, UDA appointed Mwaura to chair of the party’s National Elections Board (NEB) and KPLC’s chairperson Joy Mdivo as the head of Electoral Disputes Resolution Committee for its elections that are to be held from April 26 to August 24.

The appointment of the two raises critical questions over their roles as public officers expected to offer services to all Kenyans regardless of their political affiliation as they will be taking an active role in party politics.

Ruto and his advisers should be alive to the Public Officer Ethics Act that bars public officers from poking their noses in politics.

Section 16 (1) of the Act states: “A public officer shall not, in or in connection with the performance of his duties as such- (a) act as an agent for, or so as to further the interest of, a political party; or (b) indicate support for or opposition to any political party or candidate in an election.”

Sub-section (2) states: A public officer shall not engage in political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of his office.

The Public Officer Ethics Act draws its strength from Chapter 77 (2) that states: “Any appointed State officer shall not hold office in a political party.”

The appointments also remind Kenyans who lived during the Kanu era memories of how the civil service was misused by Moi’s administration to weed out politicians he had fallen out with through the infamous mlolongo and persecution.

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