CA director general to stay put as board defends appointment

Communication Authority of Kenya Board Chairman Ngene Gituku (centre) addresses the press at the industry regulator offices yesterday accompanied by acting director-general Mercy Wanjau and ex-Government spokesman Erick Kiraithe. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has insisted that the appointment of Mercy Wanjau as the Acting Director General stands despite a court ruling.

The authority dismissed claims that the Employment and Labour Relations Court nullified the appointment of Ms Wanjau to replace Francis Wangusi.

CA chairman Ngene Gituku insisted that Wanjau was in CA to stay, arguing that her position had not been overturned by the court.

Mr Gituku appointed the Acting Director General on August 22 to replace Mr Wangusi whose second term in office expired on the same day.

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In the court ruling, the court stated “that any purported recruitment of the successor of the Francis Wangusi as director general of the Communications Authority of Kenya as single-handedly conducted by the chairman of the board of the authority is unconstitutional and unlawful and is hereby nullified.”

But yesterday, Gituku claimed the court conclusion was not referring to the appointment of the Acting Director General.

He said it was rather “in reference to the job advertisement the authority placed in the local dailies in July 2019 for the position of the director general ahead of the lapse of Wangusi’s contract.”

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He also dismissed reports that Wangusi was likely to return to office pending the appointment of a substantive director general.

“The court, after considering the unique circumstances posed by lack of a sitting board at the time of the lapse of Wangusi’s contract on August 21, declined the petitioner’s prayer that the former director general be allowed to return to office within the doctrine of necessity,” said the board chairman.

On Friday, the court ruled that ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru had acted unconstitutionally in appointing Mahmoud Noor, Paul Mureithi, Laura Chite and Jackson Kemboi as directors to the CA board.

In September, Wanjau, who was previously the CA legal secretary, reshuffled the board by appointing Christopher Kemei as the director of the Universal Service Fund, Matano Ndaro as the director for licensing, compliance and standards and Maxwell Mosoti as the acting director for competition, tariffs and market analysis.

The court ruling was in regard to separate petitions filed by the Consumers Federation of Kenya and activist Okiya Omtata challenging the appointment of the board members.

In September, Mr Mucheru maintained that the appointment of Wanjau was valid since Wangusi had retired.

“Francis Wangusi has served his two terms in office that came to an end on August 22nd,” the CS told The Standard.

“The court said the status quo be maintained so Mercy Wanjau continues serving in an interim capacity because the court cannot extend someone’s term in office once it has lapsed.”

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Communications Authority of KenyaMercy WanjauFrancis Wangusi