Details emerge on dismissal of KFCB CEO Ezekiel Mutua as EACC begins probe

Former Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Details have emerged on the dismissal of Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua before the lapse of his contract.

The board’s acting manager of corporate services Paskal Opiyo yesterday announced the appointment of Christopher Wambua as the acting CEO, replacing Mutua immediately.

Before his appointment, Wambua served as director of communication and public affairs at Communications Authority.

“This is to inform you that Christopher Wambua has been appointed the acting CEO with effect from August 6. Kindly accord him the necessary support,” read a memo by Mr Opiyo.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is currently probing allegations that some senior officials at the board had been irregularly paid allowances and salaries.

Previously, the Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communication Technology Joe Mucheru had instructed KFCB to appoint an acting CEO and take immediate administrative measures necessary for Mutua to proceed on terminal leave, pending his retirement on October 25 this year.

Mucheru faulted the CEO and the board’s chairperson for kicking out an Inspector General of State Corporations during the board’s meeting on June 30 against the State Corporation Act.

Mucheru said that the State official was denied attendance by the board as he had concluded a management audit of the board and recommended that necessary action be taken to recover, among other things, irregular salaries and allowances paid to some senior personnel.

“Necessary measures be taken against the outgoing CEO, board chairperson and members of KFCB who prevented the Inspector General of State Corporations from carrying out lawful duties,” Mucheru directed.

Former Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua. [Dennish Ochieng, Standard]

He further requested the National Treasury to enhance monitoring of the financial operations of the board until compliance is achieved and take necessary action in line with the Public Finance Management Act.

Already, EACC’s Paschal Mweu has written to KFCB to provide information and documents to facilitate investigations into alleged irregular payment of salaries and allowances.

Among the documents needed by the anti-corruption watchdog are personal files of the two officials (CEO and chairman), all payments of salaries and allowances including payslips and payment vouchers, and KFCB Human Resource Policy and Procedures Manual guiding the increment of salaries.

Mutua-led board had recommended his reappointment for a further five years after he wrote to the board, citing his performance in transforming the operations of the board.

Mutua argued that he had recorded exceptional performance throughout his tenure, saying that the board had seen increased revenue to Sh600 million up from Sh88 million.

Mutua had challenged any plans on change of guard during Covid-19 pandemic, saying the economic situation in the country that calls for stability in leadership.

“It would be prudent for the CEO to be given more time to guide the management through these turbulent times and to complete the numerous projects he had initiated, including the new revenue streams and implementation of the new organization structure that will provide a base for succession management,” said Mutua.

Former Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua. [Dennish Ochieng, Standard]

Mucheru pointed out that the board’s decision to deliberate on re-appointment of Mutua for a third term of five years was unlawful, citing the irregularities lodged against the CEO and the board.

“The law limits the tenure of service for any Chief Executive Officer of a State corporation to a term of three years renewable once subject to performance,“ said Mucheru.

Mutua’s employment contract was set to lapse on October 25. He joined the board on secondment terms from the Ministry of ICT for a period of three years from October 2015.

His contract was renewed in October 2018 whereby he delinked from the Ministry of ICT together with other employees who were also seconded from the ministry.

When news broke out, he posted a tweet denying he had been pushed out.

“My attention has been drawn to reports on social media to the effect that I have been fired as CEO of KFCB. Please ignore such malicious rumours. I am not aware of such developments and there can be no grain of truth in them as there is no vacancy in the office of the CEO KFCB,” wrote Mutua.