3 November 2012

Kenya: Decision On Vetting Somewhat Puzzling


On Tuesday October 30, 2012 the High Court delivered a ruling that has been the subject of heated discussions.In the said ruling, a five-judge bench consisting of justices, Jonathan Havelock, Joseph Mutava, Erick Ogolla, Alfred Mabeya and Pauline Nyamweya held that the High Court has jurisdiction over the vetting process being undertaken by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.

Consequently the court halted the gazetting of the removal of office of the five judges found by the board to be unsuitable to continue serving on the bench. This means that these judges remain in office and will continue to draw their monthly salaries and other perks.

The vetting of judicial officers sprang out of the collective desire of Kenyans to rid the judiciary of judges whose credibility was seriously in question.

Under the one party rule, the judiciary had acquired the dubious reputation of being at the beck and call of the Executive. 'Justice' was only available to the highest bidder.

In an attempt to restore the confidence of Kenyans in the Judiciary, the constitution provided for the enactment of the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Act, the statute under which the vetting board was constituted. In unequivocal terms, Article 23 of the Sixth Schedule of the constitution shields the vetting process from interference by any court.

The reason why the High Court elected to dismiss this clear provision of the country's fundamental law remains unclear. Proponents of reforms are at a loss as to what informed the court's decision which, if not reversed, will certainly strike a serious blow to efforts to clean up the judiciary.

The opposition that has greeted the vetting process should, nonetheless, not strike us as entirely surprising. What is in issue here is major reforms. And as it is, the world over, the reform movement will always meet with resistance.

This should, however, not dampen the resolve of the people of Kenya, civil society, or the media, to champion reforms. Now more than ever, all progressive forces within Kenya must unite to advance the reform agenda.

Quote of the day: "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." Bob Feller was born on November 3, 1918. is an American Baseball Player (pitcher).

Copyright © 2012 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.