By Standard Team
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director Justice Aaron Ringera is fighting back, saying he would not approve any money to advertise his job.
According to details from a stormy meeting of the KACC Advisory Board that ran into the night on Tuesday, Ringera reportedly told the board it would neither stop his Sh2.5 million monthly salary nor get money to advertise for "positions that are not vacant".
He told the board it could as well organise a harambee at Uhuru Park to collect money for the adverts.
The spat on Tuesday night shifts the battle for the best-paying public jobs from Parliament to Integrity Centre, KACC’s headquarters. Ringera’s refusal was an unexpected turn of events for the board that agreed to advertise the three positions. The unilateral reappointment of Ringera and two assistant directors Fatuma Sichale and Smokin Wanjala at the anti-graft outfit three weeks ago has raised questions over its legality.
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Dr Wanjala resigned last Friday.
Last week, Parliament voted for the annulment of President Kibaki’s Gazette notice reappointing the three, saying the action was illegal since it ignored the KACC Advisory Board and Parliament.
The board, chaired by LSK chairman Okong’o Omogeni, has, on its part, declared the President’s action illegal and promised to advertise the positions and forward its recommendations to Parliament for vetting.
And an emboldened Sichale, who is Ringera’s deputy, accompanied her boss to the meeting, and said she was staying on, as resigning would be "spitting on President Kibaki’s face".
Board officials who invited Ringera and Sichale to the meeting were on the receiving end when the director and his deputy told them they have neither the power to halt their (Ringera’s and Sichale’s) salaries nor authority to draw money for advertisement.
A board member told The Standard yesterday members went to the meeting intending to offer Ringera and Sichale a "soft landing" but were shocked to receive tongue-lashing.
It was not immediately clear what the "soft-landing" entailed. But a source said Ringera was being offered the option to leave amicably, rather than drag him through the courts.
Omogeni, who chaired the Tuesday meeting, could not be reached as he was reported to have travelled to South Africa.
Ringera and Sichale are reported to have taken over the meeting, advising the board to seek "other ways of generating funds to advertise, if they wanted to".
"You can hold a harambee at Uhuru Park and raise the money if you want. I am also going to pay myself a salary if you keep on dragging the matter. I am in office legally, having been appointed by the President whose letter of appointment, I have," the director told the board.
Ringera is reported to have told the meeting the parliamentary Motion to annul his appointment was inconsequential, as "the House had no enforcement mechanism and was only politicking".
The advisory board gave Ringera until next week when it meets to seal his fate and go ahead with the advertisement.
Another member of the board, who sought anonymity, said there were people and organisations willing to pay for the advertisements.
"We will use even money from our own pockets to pay for the advertisements," said the board member.
"We will now go full throttle because of his (Ringera’s) attitude," said another board member.
At the same time the board is understood to have set tough conditions for Ringera’s replacement.
Earlier, there was a standoff at the meeting as Ringera failed to leave the meeting maintaining he was a member of the board. He left later when other members declined to deliberate on any of the issues on the agenda until he leaves.
Members of Parliament have threatened to deny KACC its fund allocation in the current Budget if Ringera’s appointment is not rescinded. Some of them say they may resort to passing a Motion to disband KACC to protest the President’s move.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara is also seeking signatures from MPs to allow the Speaker recall the House to discuss "pressing issues".
At the same time, Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale said he was consulting individuals and organisations that have opposed Ringera’s reappointment in court to have the cases withdrawn.
Dr Khalwale said it was sad some MPs were referring to the court cases to undermine the authority of Parliament. "We will make a major statement on the matter today, since consultations are ongoing. We should not be viewed as a stumbling block to Ringera’s exit," he said.
Meanwhile, Gwassi MP John Mbadi accused the Committee of Implementation chairman Jamleck Kamau of misleading the public on the committee’s power to enforce Parliament’s annulment of Ringera’s appointment.
He claimed Kamau is serving the interests of the courts instead of Parliament. According to Parliament’s Standing Order 196, the committee is required to ensure Government agencies and the Executive implement the House’s Motions, resolutions, adopted reports, and undertakings by officials within 60 days.
Some experts argue the annulment could cause a constitutional crisis if the High Court upholds Kibaki’s action. Ringera has reportedly told the KACC Advisory Board on Tuesday that Parliament’s vote amounts to "hot air" and cannot be enforced.
— Reporting by Maseme Machuka, David Ochami, Beauttah Omanga and Mutinda Mwanzia