By MACHARIA KAMAU
The minister also hired new board members to the eight State corporations under his ministry.
The minister last week issued a gazette notice firing board members of all State run tourism bodies and making fresh hirings, a move that has not gone down well with the industry players who term the action illegal.
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF), an umbrella body for private sector players in the tourism industry, is contesting the move. It terms the act a gross violation of regulations governing the industry and wants the appointments revoked and the older board members to all the institutions reinstated.
The association notes that Mwazo’s quest to stamp out his authority as the new Tourism minister following his appointment in February may have acted contrary to the Tourism Act 2011. The Act gives private sector players seats on the boards of different tourism State corporations as well as Constitutional clauses on leadership and integrity.
In the July 20 gazette notice, Mwazo said the changes were part of the measures being undertaken in readiness for the adoption of the Tourism Act signed to law last September.
“There are laid down procedures that the minister did not follow and the various provisions for revoking board members appointment before his term ends have not arisen... it would be interesting to find out why for example the allocation of a seat on KTB’s board to the Kenya Wildlife Service was revoked and given to an individual,” said Lucy Karume, chairperson, KTF.
“We strongly feel the appointments were not in the spirit of the Tourism Act. The Act makes clear provisions on board appointments to State corporations and this was not followed to any degree. There is provision for at least two people to be nominated by registered tourism associations.”
“He has blatantly ignored the industry and we feel the Government should show respect for the laws,” observed Karume. “We are talking about huge amounts of investments that the private sector has made and should at least be acknowledged for the role it has played in the growth of the industry.”
State parastatals in the tourism sector include KTB, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, KTDC, Catering and Tourism Development Levy Trust (KCTDL) and the Bomas of Kenya. Others are the Hotels and Restaurants Authority, the Kenya Safari Lodges and the Kenya Utalii College.