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Riddle of county operating without chief officers months after elections

By Steve Mkawale | Published Sat, February 3rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 2nd 2018 at 22:59 GMT +3
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui addressing the press after a meeting with officials from KWS, Red Cross ,Disaster management  at his office in Nakuru on November 16,2017. [Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard].

When Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s executive members were sworn in on November 16, last year, it was expected that chief officers would soon follow.

Three months after the ten-member executive hit the ground running, the fate of chief officers remains unknown because of a pending court case.

The county government and nominated Senator Victor Pringei are embroiled in a court battle over the nine nominees as chief officers presented by Governor Kinyanjui to the assembly for vetting.

Mr Pringei moved to court to stop the vetting over claims that Mr Kinyanjui disregarded some constitutional provisions during nominations.

In his application at the Employment and Labour Relations Court, the senator argues that the governor failed to consider the youth, ethnic diversity and minority communities in his appointments in violation of the Constitution and the County Government Act.

“My application at the Employment and Labour Relations Court has nothing to do with politics. I was nominated to represent interests of the youth and minority in the county and that is what am doing,” he told Saturday Standard.

Chief officers who are like Principal Secretaries in the national government are key in management of the devolved units.

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They are accounting officers and policy implementators of their departments. According to the County Government Act, chief officers are technical administrators of county departments.

The law requires the governor to nominate qualified persons as chief officers after they have been competitively sourced and recommended by the County Public Service Board. They assume office after vetting and approval of the assembly.

The court battle has hampered service delivery, said Kimuche Masese, a programme officer with the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG).

“The role of chief officers in the management of county affairs is crucial in service delivery and for the county government to deliver on promises to the electorate in good time. This delay might impact negatively on service delivery,” said Mr Masese.

Sources at Town Hall told the Saturday Standard that lawyers presenting the county government and the senator were drafting an out of court agreement that would see the governor expand his list of nominees to meet the legal requirements as demanded by Pringei.

“We have had consultations with both parties and an agreement will be reached soon,” said one of the lawyers who sought anonymity.

But the nominated senator knowledge of such an arrangement saying his lawyers are yet to brief him.

“I’m not aware of any out of court settlement. The issue I raised in court is about exclusivity in appointments at the county government and if that is addressed according to the law, then I have no problem,” he said.

Governor Kinyanjui insisted that his government was running smoothly as the outgoing chief officers were keen on service delivery. He defended his nominees saying he went for professionalism and integrity.

“I know some people are not happy with my choice but this administration requires a team that can deliver my vision to voters. Not all the chief officers positions have been filed, we still have some officers who are yet to complete their terms,” he said.

However, the electorate accused the governor of leaving out individuals who were key in his campaign team in the run up to the August 8 General Election.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama moved to court to stop the vetting of the CEC nominees by saying the list was skewed to favor certain communities in the county.

Those nominated as chief officers are Rose Tume Abduba (Gender and Culture) , Judy Leah Gathoni Waihenya (Lands), Dr. Enos Kellonye Amuyunzu (Agriculture), Joseph Muchina Gitau (Finance) and Samuel Gitonga Maina (Education),

Others are Job Kibei Tomno for Environment and Water Resources, Benjamin Kipkoech Koskei ( Youth and Sports) , Peter Mwangi Mwaura ( ICT and E-Government) and Kennedy Momanyi Ombati for Economic Planning.

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