19 February 2013

Kenya: Ex-Fida Boss Pitches for Deputy CJ Job

A former chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya Chapter) Joyce Majiwa appeared before the Judicial Service Commission on Tuesday afternoon to defend her suitability for the Deputy Chief Justice position.

Majiwa, who holds a vast record in activism, was put to task over her scholarly work with Judicial Service Commissioner Ahmednasir Abdullahi charging that they were shallow as they only focused on women.

He also expressed concern that her activism would cloud her ability to remain objective if she got the job.

"Isn't it just too narrow? And I have had this discussion with the Attorney General. I mean why can't lawyers in this country be jacks of all trade? One day you do a winding up course, the next day you do a judicial review and then a children's case?" he asked.

"You (Majiwa) look like a master of women's issues," he charged.

She however countered the accusation saying topics surrounding women were vast and should not be undermined. She argued that working with women had expanded her view and exposed her to a vast array of skills.

"I don't think that working for women is narrow. If our jurisdiction allowed us to specialise, would you hold the same view on someone who said they focused on maritime law," she challenged Abdullahi who responded in the affirmative.

Majiwa also found herself on the spot when it emerged that she had taken 21 years to clear her Higher Education Loans Board remittances.

Commissioner Samuel Kobia accused her of denying several Kenyans a chance to access the loans by delaying the settlement of her dues.

"I paid it back last year and I regret that but I help pay fees for a lot of people and I hope that makes it up in some way. When I realised I hadn't paid, I asked them to make me settle it using instalments," she admitted.

Her wealth declaration form, tax returns for the last three years and a self declaration form were however missing from her file.

But Majiwa explained that she had indeed filed her wealth and self declaration forms but that she hadn't included her tax returns in her application.

Majiwa also found herself on the spot, again, over her position on abortion, with High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola asking her if she supported it. She however said that it should only be allowed in controlled contexts.

Her thoughts on the 2003 radical judicial surgery were also questioned after she insisted that it was a failure.

"How can you say it was not a success when it removed 25 Judges because of allegations of corruption and lack of competence?" asked Abdullahi.

"Because success is measured by what happens thereafter. Success is not taking away 25 Judges. What was required was a full transformation of the Judiciary, such as is happening now," Majiwa countered.

Asked what she would advocate for if her quest for the judicial position succeeded, Majiwa said she would make the Judiciary people-centred, push for the establishment of a case management system and strive to open the communication channels.

She also said that she would uphold high integrity standards if she got the job and that she would not tolerate corruption.

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