Governors are expected to meet today over a memo that warned them against hiring officers without vetting.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has accused 40 governors of violating the law on leadership and integrity when they hired chief officers without vetting by the agency.
The memo sent to governors last week may also see county executives and other senior officers lose their jobs if found not to have complied with financial, corruption, criminal and tax requirements.
“All governors are invited to a consultative meeting tomorrow (today) at the Council of Governors’ Delta Corner office in Westland,” read an invite sent to county bosses, in part.
EACC deputy CEO Michael Mubea maintained the commission has a role in recruitment of public officers and that what they did is legal.
“Governors must follow the law on leadership and integrity. In this matter, they have not done so. They cannot violate Chapter Six of the Constitution. They were supposed to forward names of those they want to recruit to us before they are vetted,” said Mubea.
He added: “This will ensure their competences and suitability are guaranteed after they fill and submit self declaration forms to us for vetting.”
This came as legal and governance experts differed on whether EACC has a role in hiring senior county government employees.
Most governors have termed the commission’s memo ill-advised.
In Baringo, vetting and appointment of county executives was shrouded in controversy, especially after the public was locked out amidst questions about qualifications of some of the nominees.
One of the nominees is said to have presented documents showing he acquired a Bachelor’s degree within one year.
In another instance, the public and journalists were kicked out as a nominee struggled to respond to questions.
The nominees are said to have been sworn in despite a petition challenging appointment of the officials.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said EACC did not give new governors sufficient advisory on appointment of ministers and other top officials.
He said the issue raised by EACC was administrative and could be sorted out by county governments.
“There was no prior communication from the ant-graft agency on whether to submit the names to them and other State agencies before engaging nominees. The job seekers sought clearance from the relevant State agencies as stipulated in the law. None told us to take the names to them for clearance,” said Kinyanjui.
Kinyanjui found himself in trouble when he named his cabinet after Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama went to court to challenge it over ethnic balance and diversity.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony said he complied with the law. His counterpart in Baringo, Stanley Kiptis also said he complied with the law when picking his cabinet.
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos maintained that the exercise was done in strict conformity with the law.
“The EACC report surprises us since those who applied for the positions met the conditions. They had all the clearance certificates as required by law,” he said.
Tolgos added: “We even went out of our way to get reports about the appointees from State agencies such as the National Intelligence Service. The information we got affirmed our belief they were fit to hold office.”
Nandi’s Stephen Sang has been asked to explain the criteria used to appoint his ministers and other top officials.
Senator Kiprotich Cherargey has been leading a public onslaught against Sang who he has accused of ignoring considerations of merit, suitability and integrity. He said the governor has instead rewarded his supporters and family.
Sang has however defended his appointees terming the 10-member Cabinet ‘the best team’ that will deliver on his election pledges.
“This is the best Cabinet I could ever appoint. I stand by my cabinet and I will give each one of them support in their departments,” said Sang.
Siaya governor Cornel Rasanga also took issue with the memo but said he is yet to appoint his cabinet.
“That allegation is not accurate. The law relating to appointment of CECs is captured in the County Government Act, 2012 which requires the county assembly to vet nominees. Among the issues to be considered is the issue of compliance with Chapter Six of the Constitution,” he said.
Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati denied that members of his cabinet have questionable backgrounds.
“The county government is inviting EACC to interrogate the officers. Governor Wangamati selected qualified individuals who meet constitutional requirements to serve in the Cabinet,” said county communication director Tim Machi.
He said the names and details on the executives were sent to EACC and other relevant authorities before their appointment.
Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya wondered why his name is in the list by EACC yet he has not named his cabinet.
Mr Oparanya postponed unveiling of his new cabinet last week. It is the third time the county boss has halted the process citing internal audit going on in county ministries.
Busia’s Sospeter Ojamoong said he would unveil a new cabinet once a petition challenging his win in last year’s election is determined.