President Uhuru Kenyatta tasted his first defeat in 2015 in the House when MPs, a majority from his ruling Jubilee coalition, voted to reject Dr Monica Juma, his nominee for the plum post of the Secretary to the Cabinet.
The lawmakers in the National Assembly stamped their oversight authority and agreed with the committee that vetted Juma, the current Interior principal secretary to gauge her suitability for the seat of Secretary to the Cabinet. The verdict from the House was unanimous: the nominee had to be rejected.
The decision of the House has put the President in a legal dilemma, because the decision of the House effectively means that Juma may not continue in public service, given that the peopleâ€™s representatives have no faith in her leadership. Her replacement at Interior, Maj.Gen (rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa is scheduled for vetting in the House.
The big news of the day was the Budget speech by the National Treasuryâ€™s Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, but the belligerent MPs were determined to block Jumaâ€™s nomination, and they delayed Rotich by half an hour to make their point. Majority Leader Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart Francis Nyenze had tried to push through the debate and Jumaâ€™s approval and to even seek more time to change the minds of the MPs, but they failed. MPs voted 163-55 to reject the proposed extension by ten days, and then voted verbally to reject Jumaâ€™s nomination for the Cabinet job. Three MPs abstained from the vote.
As Duale and Nyenze spoke, their respective voices were drowned by chants of â€œJuma must goâ€, but a group of MPs that wanted the PS to get the Cabinet job countered with â€œJuma must stayâ€.
The MPs shouted, waved, stood up and basically threw tantrums to get the attention of Speaker Justin Muturi to put the matter to vote. The Speaker tried to ignore the shouts, and when he couldnâ€™t hold it any longer â€“ the MPs were too unruly, it was like a market place on market dayâ€”he stood up and reminded them the essence of decorum. â€œThe majority will have their way, but the minority must also be allowed to have their say,â€ said Muturi.
The chairman of the Administration and National Security Committee Asman Kamama asked MPs to back his report rejecting Juma, and as soon as he was seconded by Humphrey Njuguna (Gatanga), the die was cast. Kamama and Njuguna harped on the controversial letter by Juma to the clerks of the two Houses — that MPs were seeking illegal favours from her office, and that she wonâ€™t entertain any illegal plots against public servants– to marshal the numbers for her rejection. â€œShe has the papersâ€¦ but we have problems with her in relation to articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution, and also with Chapter Six of the Constitution. She said MPs are not welcome to her office,â€ said Njuguna.