By Augustine Oduor
Nairobi, Kenya: Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has finally sworn in Nairobi School Principal Cleophas Tirop to be a Commissioner with Teachers Service Commission.
This is after a protracted court battle that saw two other persons recommended for employment as commissioners locked out.
The two, Fredrick Haga Ochieng and Adan Sheikh Abdullahi, will now have to wait longer to be Commissioners at the teacher employer.
The High Court had nullified the appointment of the three Commissioners even after Parliament cleared the names.
This was also after the House rejected the initial list sent to Parliament terming it a dangerous precedent that did not reflect merit.
Among those interviewed for the position of chairperson were the Commission’s director of policy at the ministry of education, Kirago wa Magochi and Simon Kavisi both of TSC.
After interviews, conducted by educationist James Kamunge, Lydia Nzomo who is the director of Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development was top but her name was missing in the final list presented to the House.
Tirop who is also the national chairman of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) had emerged tops in the commissioners’ category but his name was omitted in the final list.
Consequently, teachers unions weighed in demanding regional balance and merit be factored in the appointment of the commissioners.
MPs insisted that merit prevail and returned the names back to the office of the president.
Last month, Mutunga declined to swear in the three officials following what the termed an ‘unclear ruling’ that noted that “status quo” be maintained.
The case at the high court was challenging the overall process of recruitment of the three officials including the chairperson.
Justice David Majanja ruled that the submission of a list that contained the names of persons rejected by the National Assembly “did not constitute ‘fresh nominations.’
Only Tirop’s name was a fresh nomination as his name was not in the initial list rejected by MPs last year.
In his ruling, Justice Majanja argued that the move violated Section 8(II) of the TSC Act. He said that the educationist James Kamunge, who chaired the selection panel, had a role of picking the names afresh from candidates who were interviewed.
And to this extend, he noted that the selection process must take note of gender, regional representation and merit.
The regions whose representation was needed are North Eastern, Nyanza and Rift Valley.
With Tirop now representing Rift Valley the other regions may be represented in another round of interviews set for May or June when the term of the remaining five Commissioners expire.
Under the new constitution, TSC should have nine Commissioners.