Suspended National Lands Commission CEO Tom Chavangi has finally freed the agency to recruit a substantive replacement in anticipation of the end of his term in June 2023.
For four and a half years, Chavangi kept off the Commission offices in line with Section 62 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
The Act says a public officer charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended, at half pay, from the date of charge until the conclusion of the case. Chavangi was charged in August 2018 with corruption, two months after signing up for a new five-year second term. And although the commission appointed its human resources director Kabale Tache to act as a CEO, it has not been able to recruit a substantive CEO because it had one in Chavangi.
“My term ends on June 18. My terminal leave started on March 3, 2023. I am happy and relieved,” Chavangi told The Standard.
But he was being modest, for he will also be walking away with millions of shillings paid to him on a monthly basis as half pay and full allowances since mid-2018 when he was suspended.
Enjoying half pay and CEO perks
In the close to five years he was out, Chavangi enjoyed his half-month pay, full allowances dues to a CEO, and all other benefits of a substantive CEO including an official commission car, a driver and medical cover.
His half pay every month of Sh306,000 translates to Sh17,136,000 for the 56 months up to this month. This is minus the monthly full allowances such per diem, air transport and air time which Chavangi says he never received.
But Chavangi says nothing matches the benefits of the reflections he had over the period. It cannot pay for the pain of attending court for four and a half years.
He says: “You can imagine being on suspension for the full second term of employment.” In the period, NLC's hands were so much tied by the suspension of Chavangi that it set down to negotiate with him for his exit. In 2021, Tache formed a team to reach out to him to cut an early exit deal. They did not go far.
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Today, NLC chair Gershom Otachi Bw’Omanwa announced the recruitment of “an exceptional, visionary, highly dynamic and result-oriented leader to fill the position of Commission Secretary/CEO" to replace Chavangi. Those interested have up until May 9 to apply.