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Court: Kihika's county executive picks blocked from taking office

 Governor Susan Kihika during a past function. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has declared unconstitutional the appointment of 10 Nakuru county executives.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa Monday quashed Governor Susan Kihika’s press release dated October 13 which notified the public of the appointment of the 10 nominees.

Wasilwa ruled on a petition filed by Dr Magare Gikenyi and Daniel Kipng’etich, against Kihika, the cunty government and the county assembly.

The two listed the 10 nominees as interested parties in the petition.

In her ruling, Wasilwa prohibited Kihika, her administration, and the assembly from processing the nomination of the 10.

“The process initiated for the appointment of CECs was skewed and does not reflect the county’s diversity. It should not be allowed to proceed,” Justice Wasilwa said.

She ordered Kihika to perform her duties according to the constitution and protect, and defend it as per the oath of office she took.

The judge said of the 10 nominees, seven were from one ethnic group, two from another, and one from another, in the cosmopolitan Nakuru county. Wasilwa said the governor is mandated to consider a composition that reflects the community and cultural diversity of the county as well as affirmative action.

“The governor was accused of nominating 70 per cent of the CECs from one tribe. She did not deny the claims,” said Wasilwa. 

She said although Kihika said the process was fair and merit-based, she did not provide clear information on how it was done.

“The respondents’ actions of omission amount to unfair discrimination,” she said.

Wasilwa compelled Kihika to initiate a proper and legal process of filling the CEC positions as contemplated in the constitution and the County Government Act.

The judge said Dr Magare and Kipng’etich had the right to file the petition because they are Kenyan citizens, and Nakuru residents, and were acting on behalf of others.

She said the court had jurisdiction to hear the case because it was an employment issue and the case was filed before the names were forwarded to the assembly for vetting.

“The court did not interfere with the vetting process because it had not started in the assembly. Arguments that the case was brought to court prematurely cannot stand,” she said.

Dr Magare, a consultant Trauma, and General Surgeon in Nakuru, and Kipng’etich challenged Kihika’s appointments.

The nominees are Dr Nelson Tanui (Water and Environment), Dr Samuel Mwangi (Health), Stephen Muiruri (Trade), John Karanja (Lands), Leonard Kipkoech (Agriculture), Roselyn Wanjiru (Public Service), Josephine Atieno (Sports), Zipporah Wambui (Education), Stephen Njogu (Finance) and Michael Kamau (Infrastructure).

Kihika and the county advertised for the positions of the CECs on September 30.

On October 13, Kihika in her press release, communicated to the public that after receiving 478 applicants, the select committee proposed a list of 10 names to take up the positions.

However, the two petitioners said the nomination process was not fair, competitive, merit-based, or inclusive on the basis of integrity, suitability, and in consideration of ethnic balances.

“The governor should maintain constitutionalism, rule of law, good governance, non-discrimination and protection of the constitution,” they said.

Speaking after the court made its pronouncement, former Kuresoi MP James Koskei advised the governor to always consult before making such decisions. Magare said it was a win for the Nakuru people.