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Staff transfers that could negate Ngilu, Swazuri truce

COUNTY_NAIROBI
By STANDARD TEAM | March 30th 2015
Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri at a past function. The two recently “buried the hatchet” and vowed to work together but this new found truce could be under threat following disquiet over transfer of personnel. INSET: Ardhi House in Nairobi where the Lands ministry is located. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Nairobi,Kenya: Officials at the Lands ministry and their counterparts at the National Land Commission (NLC) are at logger heads over transfer of 500 officers from the ministry to the commission.

About half of these officers have since declined to take up the transfers and have returned their appointment letters to NLC.

They have continued with their jobs at the ministry’s land administration docket, which includes land adjudication and settlement, survey and renewing of leases, in roles said to be parallel to those at the commission.

Sources indicate that a senior official at the ministry is behind the staff’s disobedience. It is alleged that she has convinced the defiant officers to stick to their former work station and wait for amendments to the land laws that will restore the functions to the ministry.

NOT AMUSED

Following their decision, NLC has written to the Public Service Commission (PSC) declaring the officer’s work illegal and seeking to have them redeployed to other areas in the civil service to stop them from having structures parallel to the commission.

In a letter dated March 27, this year, NLC Vice Chairperson Abigael Mbagaya Mukolwe said the officers insistence to stay at the lands ministry is causing confusion and is “negatively affecting service delivery and performance of the country’s land sector”.

“In view of this, we deploy the officers back to you for your necessary action since their functions have been transferred to the commission by law,” the letter said.

Yesterday, NLC Director of Communications Khalid Salim said the commission is opposed to the officers’ continued stay at the lands ministry because they are duplicating the commission’s work and should therefore be re-deployed elsewhere.

“The same officers who were screened by the commission but refused to report for work are creating confusion because they are doing the same work that the commission does.

Their mandate at the ministry has been transferred to the commission and they should not remain there,” Salim said.

Salim further said the commission does not expect a response to the letter sent to PSC but anticipates action will be taken to ensure there are no two teams doing the same work.

According to Ms Mukolwe, the staff were vetted and offered employment on terms and conditions of the commission while considering the officers current job groups, number of years worked and experience.

She said the move to vet and transfer these officials is based on Article 27 of the constitution and the NLC Act which authorises the commission to absorb officers whose services were transferred to NLC.

NLC’s letter was copied to Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Lands Principal Secretary Mariam El-Maawy.

The letter has also been copied to National Assembly Lands Committee chairman Alex Muiru and Senate Land and Natural Resources Committee chairman Lenny Kivuti.

SECOND TIME

This is the second letter that the commission has written seeking transfer of officials seconded to the NLC after another correspondence dated October 13, 2014 on Deployment of Civil Servants from the National Land Commission was referred to PSC.

The working relations between NLC and the commission has often been characterised by squabbles and disagreements, especially between Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu and NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri.

However, this appeared to have come to an end last month when Ngilu and Swazuri told a public forum in Mombasa that they have resolved their differences and would work together.

“Dr Swazuri and I have decided to bury the hatchet so as to serve the people of Kenya,” Ngilu had said as the two held hands in Likoni, Mombasa.

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