- The net worth of newly appointed Chief Justice Martha Koome has not been revealed to Parliament, bucking a trend of disclosures by past nominees seeking appointment to top public offices.
- The wealth of Justice Koome, who was formally appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday, only remains known to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which interviewed her for the job.
The net worth of newly appointed Chief Justice Martha Koome has not been revealed to Parliament, bucking a trend of disclosures by past nominees seeking appointment to top public offices.
The wealth of Justice Koome, who was formally appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday, only remains known to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) which interviewed her for the job.
“She had declared it (net worth) to the Judicial Service Commission because interviews for the job was done by the commission. We were only to approve or reject the nomination. We didn’t look at her net worth and I cannot tell you the particulars,” Muturi Kigano, the chairman of the Delegated Committee that vetted Justice Koome told the Business Daily in a telephone interview.
Traditionally, nominees vetted by Parliament for appointment to such top positions are required to provide details on their wealth status to the respective departmental committees evaluating their qualification and suitability.
The vetting committee then presents the declared wealth in a report to the whole House for debate and approval.
In April 2016, the then Chief Justice Willy Mutunga publicly tweeted that he was worth Sh80 million.
Other top state officials including Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and ambassadors have disclosed their net worth during vetting by Parliament.
Her tax returns disclosed to Parliament by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) show that Ms Koome had a sole employment income of Sh14.89 million in 2018. But she could be holding other non-income bearing assets such as land, cars and family home.
Wealth declaration is prescribed in the Constitution as a mandatory requirement for those seeking top public offices on grounds that it helps in the fight against corruption.
In the same vein, the Public Officer Ethics Act requires all State officers to submit their wealth declaration forms once every two years.
Section 26 of the Act requires the officers to submit their declarations together with those of their spouses and children under 18 years.
The full financial disclosure is meant to allow the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to detect and prevent corruption among top public servants.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last evening appointed Justice Koome as the Chief Justice, hours after Parliament approved her nomination for appointment as Kenya’s third Chief Justice since the passing of the Constitution in 2010.
A child of subsistence farmers, Justice Koome co-founded and chaired the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), which campaigns for women’s rights and offers poor women free legal service and contributed to the landmark 2010 Constitution.
Now 61 years, Justice Koome, who is married with three children, will be the first female head of any Kenyan branch of government.
The head of State gazetted Justice Koome to head the Judiciary for a non-renewable 10-year term, succeeding David Maraga who retired in January.
Justice Koome joins Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Njoki Ndung’u at the Supreme Court, ending a 10-year wait to comply with the constitutional one-third gender rule.
Other Supreme Court judges are Justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Isaac Lenaola and William Ouko, who was appointed to the apex court recently after interviews.
Past wealth lists revealed that individuals who have previously served in public offices or consulted for government were richer compared to those who have served in the private sector.
During his vetting, Mutahi Kagwe, the Health Cabinet Secretary, listed his net worth as Sh667.8 million while Betty Maina, the Industrialisation CS, put her wealth at Sh117.5 million.
Mr Kagwe said he owns two companies that made Sh5.4 million profit last year. His public relations firm, Tell-Em, made Sh2.87 million while research agency TNS RMS East Africa generated Sh2.625 million last year.
Ms Maina then informed the committee that she made her Sh117.5 million wealth from pay linked to her State position and her previous position as CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). She earned Sh10.3 million annually at KAM.
Mr Kagwe’s wealth is second highest in the Cabinet compared to the Sh796 million that former director at Betting Control and Licensing Board Simon Chelugui declared three years ago when he was appointed Water and Sanitation Secretary. Mr Chelugui has since been moved to the Labour Ministry.
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