Give me back my job, says worker fired 27 years ago

Francis James Khasira, former chief accountant in the Ministry of Transport. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

A 71-year-old retiree who was sacked for refusing to make a questionable Sh17 million payment almost three decades ago wants to be reinstated as a chief accountant.

Francis James Khasira, who was a chief accountant in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, says the payment was for equipment supplied to the Meteorological Department under questionable circumstances.

He says he was sacked by the-then Permanent Secretary Andrew Ligale after he wrote a memo to his boss when he detected the anomalies regarding the payment. Khasira says he was in the process of authorising payments when he detected that some of the claims made by some companies owned by controversial businessman Depak Kamani and RC Kamani amounting to about Sh53 million were questionable.

Inflated prices After detecting that some of the items the companies purported to have supplied to the Meteorological Department were bloated and the suppliers were single sourced and their prices inflated, Khasira wrote a memo on April 4, 1991, which triggered a series of events that ultimately saw him lose his job.

During one of the meetings with Ligale and the Director of Meteorological Department, Evans Mukolwe, the PS ordered Khasira to prepare a detailed report of the anomalies he had detected, but when he submitted his report, he was accused of being presumptuous and insubordinate.

“I was served with a show-cause letter dated May 23, 1991 in which Ligale said the allegations of financial impropriety at the Meteorological Department were baseless and that I should withdraw the memos and apologise unconditionally to him,” he recalls.

When he refused to withdraw the memos and apologise for embarrassing his bosses, he was dismissed through a letter dated October 22, 1991, for “gross misconduct, insubordination and rudeness.”

However, an internal tribunal headed by the-then Kiambu Principal Magistrate Florence Muchemi on November 11, 1994, absolved him of any wrongdoing and he was to be reinstated to his acting chief accountant position within 30 days.

He claims his return to his workstation was supposed to take effect immediately Muchemi handed her report to the chair of the Public Service Commission.

“But as I waited for my reinstatement, the report vanished and I was retired in public interest on July 7, 1995. This was against the rules of natural justice and all this time I have been treated like a criminal although I was vindicated by the tribunal,” Khasira says.

He is bitter that his attempts to safeguard the taxpayers’ money by flagging questionable dealings cost him his job and efforts to clear his name have been frustrated by the disappearance of the tribunal findings and reluctance by the Judiciary to order the release of the handwritten notes.

When the Saturday Standard called Ligale over the matter and asked him whether he was aware of the case, he listened keenly then said, “That sounds like a long issue. I am going for a meeting. Will call you once I am through with the meeting.”

Gross misconduct By the time of going to press, Ligale had not called back but we traced his 1991 correspondences with Khasira. In his dismissal letter, Ligale said Khasira exhibited gross misconduct and insubordination, which was out of place in civil service. According to Ligale, the government had entered into contract with Acme Sales and Services of UK for the supply of nine fixed Halon Systems.

The government was supposed to pay 142,246 UK pounds (about Sh17 million) in advance after Acme offered a guarantee from Grindlays Bank for the same amount.

“The goods were shipped by Acme Sales from the UK on March 27, 1991 and a clean bill of landing was issued and received by the Meteorological Department. In spite of these circumstances Mr Khasira engaged himself in a baseless legal battle with Grindlays Bank without first consulting me, the Attorney General or Treasury,” Ligale said.

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