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Parliament Advances Bill to Cap CASs at 22, Amidst Constitutional Concerns

Parliamentary committee has advanced a bill aimed at formalizing President William Ruto’s appointment of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs), proposing to limit their number to 22, in adherence to constitutional provisions.

Chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara, the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) approved the bill, suggesting that CAS appointments be made by the President based on recommendations from the Public Service Commission. The proposed cap aims to align with constitutional mandates regarding governmental appointments.

The committee further recommended considerations for regional and gender balance in the selection process, emphasizing the need for inclusivity. However, functions and responsibilities of the CAS office must be streamlined to prevent conflicts with Principal Secretaries.

While the bill received majority support, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo dissented, arguing that the proposed functions of CASs duplicate those of Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, potentially leading to role conflicts. Amollo highlighted concerns about the constitutionality of the CAS office, citing Article 152(1)(d) limiting Cabinet Secretaries to 22.

The bill’s publication followed a court ruling against the initial appointment of CASs by President Ruto, who had selected 50 individuals for the positions. The High Court intervened, halting their assumption of office pending further legal proceedings.

President Ruto had defended his decision to appoint 50 CASs, citing the substantial workload faced by Cabinet Secretaries. The committee’s decision to cap CAS appointments follows endorsements from various agencies, including the State Department for Internal Security and National Administration and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), acknowledging the impact on the public wage bill.

Despite these approvals, Mzalendo Trust opposed the amendments, questioning their alignment with constitutional provisions and highlighting concerns about additional financial burdens on taxpayers.

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