Rachel Shebesh CAS
Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Hon. Rachel Shebesh, is among politicians who were given CAS positions after losing elections. [ PHOTO / Mpasho ]

Ruling on CAS: The High Court has ruled that the office of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), which forms part of the Government of Kenya’s Cabinet, was established in contravention of the constitution and law. The ruling by High Court Judge Anthony Mrima deals a heavy blow to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration and political structure crafted largely to reward his loyalists who had lost in the 2017 general elections.

In the verdict delivered on a case a case filed by activist Okiya Omtata, Mrima decreed that the positions were unconstitutional for lack of public participation and inclusion of, among other agencies, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). If it is honoured, those holding the position of CAS will lose their jobs.

Some of CAS beneficiaries who could end being sent packing include Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi, former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, David Osiany, Eric Simiyu, Simon Kachapin, Zach Kinuthia, Jackson Musyoka, Japheth Micheni, Zachary Ayieko and Noor Hassan, as well as former MPs Ababu Namwamba, Patrick Ntutu, Rachel Shebesh, Gideon Mung’aro, Alex Mwiru, Linah Chebii, Ken Obura, former governor Hussein Dado and Winnie Guchu.

Full Judgement: High Court Ruling on CAS positions in Kenya

Mrima also ordered fresh vetting of 10 Cabinet secretaries who were reappointed by the President after his reelection in 2017 without parliamentary interviews. “The term of the President ends with the term of Cabinet. Those who served between 2013 and 2017 should have been re-vetted to join the Cabinet,” said the judge.

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These CSs include Fred Matiang’i (Interior), James Macharia (Transport), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Charles Keter (Energy), Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), Adan Mohamed, (East Africa Community), Sicily Kariuki (Water), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Amina Mohamed (Sports).

The judge concurred with activist Okiya Omtatah that the Constitution does not envisage a scenario where a minister can serve two terms without fresh vetting. He, however, suspended the judgment until the Covid-19 pandemic flattens, noting that the implication of his judgment would disrupt the functions of the government.

Katiba Institute moved to court to challenge the legality of the position of CASs. The position first came to effect on January 26, 2018. The President is reported to have sought advice from then Public Service Commission Chair Margaret Kobia, presently CS Public Service and Gender.

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