We have achieved the Judiciary Transformation agenda – Mutunga
Dr Willy Mutunga officially retired as the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya and Chief Justice on Thursday after serving for a five-year term.
However, Mutunga did not complete his six-year term but instead opted for an early retirement in a move he said will allow the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to recruit his successor ahead of the 2017 General Elections.
In his final address, the immediate former Chief Justice said that despite facing many hurdles in delivering on his mandate, the Judiciary has achieved quite a lot over the last five years.
“There have been many successes that we have achieved together, as we strove to implement our ambitious but forward looking Judiciary Transformation Framework (JTF),” noted Mutunga.
“We sought to lay the foundations for a transformed Judiciary, aware that even though five short years would not be enough to complete the job, they would, however, be long enough to start the journey. And we have done well. The gains that we have made have been a product of collective enterprise. The challenges that abound and the journey that remains will only be overcome through collective action and eternal vigilance by the Judiciary, the Bar, and the general public.”
He noted that the transformation of the judiciary has seen significant internal re-organisation – “which is not too visible to the public but has a big bearing on the quality of our service to them.”
It has also been an “external re-orientation in the way we relate with the public – making the institution more sensitive, accountable and service oriented.”
Mutunga added that the welfare of the Judiciary staff has improved since his assumption of office in June 2011.
“We have improved staff welfare by doubling, or, in some cases, even tripling salaries; promoted staff that had stagnated for years; developed and implemented several management policies; increased and democratised the budget making process; made resource sharing more open, scientific and equitable; embraced data as a tool for measuring performance and making policy decisions; opened new courts and improved access to justice; recruited more judges, magistrates, kadhis, registrars, and judicial staff; opened up training opportunities for all cadres of staff, including the revival of the Judiciary Training Institute; invested in better working conditions through infrastructure expansion.”
“We have also reduced case backlog, made the Judiciary more friendly, generated several administration of justice policies. And, importantly, the Judiciary has reclaimed and asserted its independence and we have now succeeded in having the Judiciary Fund Act enacted.”
The former CJ said that only those who wish Judiciary ill can deny the gains realized or those that are interested in turning back the clock of time to a Judiciary the public viewed with suspicion and scorn, and one where there was intimidation, victimisation, and disempowerment of colleagues.
“Transformation has been a process of re-imagination of a new institution – a creation of a new institutional model in terms of its ethos, practices, confidence, and ambition.”
He added: “Five years ago, we were an institution that excelled in tradition and stability. Today, we have kept and glorified the great traditions and practices that serve the people of Kenya; those that animate the Constitution, and we have solidified those traditions that affirm our human dignity as workers in the Judiciary.”
“But today, we have also ruptured those traditions and practices that celebrated the dehumanization of some of our colleagues and our clients – the court users. We have also established new traditions – traditions and practices that glorify excellence; norms that celebrate team work and innovation for justice; activities that accentuate our humanity and purposiveness as one Judiciary committed to administer justice fairly to all.”
He exuded confidence that those in charge of the Judiciary and his replacement will move forward the transformative agenda of his regime.
“As I said long ago, this Transformation is not mine; it is for Kenya and for Kenyans. It is also for you Judiciary employees and your children. Transformation must be defended by your sweat and blood otherwise the gains we have made internally and externally will be overrun by regressive forces, many of which we have neutralized at every turn in the last five years.”
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