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Mzalendo Kibunjia, team exit NCIC as term lapses

COUNTIES
By - DANN OKOTH | October 15th 2013
Former National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairperson Mzalendo Kibunjia at a recent press conference.  [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

By DANN OKOTH

KENYA: The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) commissioners have been sent packing after just one-term in office.

Existing seven commissioners, including chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia, have been served with notices to return government property, including vehicles.

NCIC CEO Hassan Mohammed, however, denied they have been sacked, but confirmed the commissioners’ term expired on September 8, adding they have been ‘gradually exiting’ the commission.

“The commissioners’ term expired last month and they have gradually been leaving,” Hassan said.

“They are not on salary and do not enjoy allowances and other perks,” he said. But the CEO was at pains to explain why some commissioners were still enjoying state privileges like vehicles, drivers and state security.

“Some commissioners borrowed government vehicles, which had previously been assigned to them and most are in the process of returning them,” Hassan said. By sending the commissioners packing, the government has shut down the commission since it cannot pursue pending court cases or run a budget because both need approval of officials.

“It is indeed true that letting the terms of the current commissioners expire before renewing them or appointing others has put the commission in a tight spot because many of our programmes cannot continue,” Hassan said. “We may still run a few programmes, but even then we will not seek expert advice from outgoing commissioners,” he said.

Move fast

At the expiry of their term in September 2012, Parliament rushed to renew the terms of the commissioners — especially as the country faced another election.

The National Cohesion and Integration (Amendment) Act, 2012, therefore handed Kibunjia and his team of seven an extra year in office, on top of the three they would have served. Besides keeping politicians in-check during the electioneering period, the commission also received a boost after Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko asked Parliament to move fast and extend the term of the NCIC.

Tobiko expressed concern that hate speech cases facing then Cabinet ministers Chirau Mwakwere and Jamleck Kamau and Limuru MP Peter Mwathi could collapse if the commissioners’ term was not extended.

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