Nairobi — Lands, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Charity Ngilu has defended the appointment of a director general in her office as a measure to clear a backlog of more than 20,000 title deeds.
Ngilu who appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Lands said the backlog arose after the post of Commissioner of Lands who is legally mandated to sign title deeds ceased to exist after the promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010.
She said she appointed Peter Kahuho in an interim capacity in order to fast track the operations of the ministry while they await the position to be filled by the Public Service Commission.
"Hundreds of people are coming for their titles daily. Was I wrong to appoint someone?" Ngilu asked. "There was going to be a serious problem because we did not have someone to sign titles."
The Lands Secretary said the she made the appointment based on Article 108 and 110 (1) of the Lands Registration Act.
"While we are waiting to finalise the regulations governing the functions of the directorates, we decided to put the positions so that work in the ministry moves on," Ngilu stated.
She told the committee which is supposed to submit its report to Parliament on Wednesday, that the Chief Land Registrar cannot sign all the title deeds.
MPs Joseph Gitari, Aghostinho Neto, Alex Mwiru and Moses Ole Sakuda demanded to know under what law Ngilu appointed Kahuho as the Lands Director General yet the position does not appear in the Constitution, the Land Act or any other law.
"We must help Kenyans. But we must do so properly and in accordance with the Constitution" said the committee chairman Mwiru.
Ndhiwa MP Neto questioned the Lands Secretary on why she decided against taking the name for parliamentary approval after Ngilu had emphasized that the Kahuho's appointment was important to the ministry's mandate, but she did not have an answer to Neto's query.
The Attorney General's office also came under criticism after a State Counsel assigned to the ministry tried to downplay MPs' observation that the Gazette Notice announcing Kahuho's appointment did not specify the laws it was done under.
Baringo North MP William Cheptumo who served as Justice and Legal Affairs Assistant Minister in the Grand Coalition Government noted that it was odd for a Gazette Notice to fail to indicate laws which are enabling an appointment.
"Is it in order to issue a gazette notice without specifying the particular laws?"
The State Counsel defended his office and that of the Government Printer from the printing error and said that the ministry forwarded the documents to the Government Printers without allowing the AG to give its opinion on it.
Ngilu was summoned by the committee after Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gitari, who brought it to the House, demanded a statement on the appointment which he claimed contravenes the Constitution.
The committee is now due to present its report on Wednesday after the session.