EACC to grill embattled Kenya Power chairperson over management wrangles

Kenya Power Board Chair Vivienne Yeda.

Kenya Power (KP) board chairperson Vivienne Yeda will be grilled today on suspicion of interference in the management and tendering process as the workers union threatens a strike unless she exits.

Yeda and two others will be questioned by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC).

EACC spokesperson Yasin Amaro said investigators interrogated three directors on Wednesday 15, September and three others on Monday.

“We have asked the board members for all tender documents during their tenure. We are going to analyse them to verify the areas of breach,” said Amaro.

EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak summoned board members to record a statement on the ongoing probe that led to the exit of former CEO Bernard Ngugi including Eng Andulrazaq Ali, Caroline Kittony, Njoroge Muhu, Eng Elizabeth Rogo, Kairo Thuo, Sachen Gudka, Eng Isaac Kiva, Humprey Muhu and Vivienne Yeda.

Those questioned yesterday were Thuo and Gudka while on Monday it was Eng Ali, Kittony and Muhu.

Major (Rtd) Mbarak had indicated that they are investigating the board members over alleged tender wars and management work that allegedly led to the exit of Eng Ngugi who was serving a three-year term to end in October 2022. He was replaced by Rosemary Oduor in an acting capacity.

Conduct of board members

Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers' Union (Ketawu) faulted the conduct of the board members.

Through national general secretary Ernest Nadome, the workers blamed board members for near paralysis of operations.

“The current board has four members; they are referred to within the energy sector as the four musketeers. The four musketeers are hell-bent on bringing down KP,” said Nadome at a presser.

“The management of KP have been intimidated, all their work is being run by the board. We are wondering how the government got such a board,” he said.

The workers are unhappy with Yeda, Kitonny, Eng Rogo and Gudka.

Ketawu also wants the proposed Safaricom smart grid solution allegedly being pushed by a section of the board under the pretext of PPP & PIIP Acts, reviewed.

In August, Kittony told the National Assembly Energy committee that the Board had held 112 cumulative meetings over the 12 months to June 2021.

These included 32 full board meetings and five special board meetings, while the others were divided among the committees.

“I wish to express that these have been under the approval of the Ministry of Energy,” Ms Kittony-Waiyaki told the MPs.

Within that year, there were 14 full board meetings. The board and the committees met 53 times in the year to June 2019 and 54 times in the period to June 2018.

Though the board claimed the meetings were approved, The Standard has reliably learnt that Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter had also sought a response from Yeda and the board on claims of several meetings outside the Salaries and Remuneration Commission guidelines.

Restructuring Kenya Power

The board is on the spot for allegedly rejecting the proposed restructuring of Kenya Power organogram by the Eng Ngugi-led team which was yet to be approved by the State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC).

However, it was on the tender for insurance brokerage services that the board and management allegedly clashed.

At first, the board cancelled the Sh200 million tender, with Yeda pushing for the amount of the deal to be increased to Sh1 billion owing to Kenya Power’s size.  

Although, Yeda announced that Eng Ngugi had resigned, it was alleged that he was forced out after he was appraised dismally.

The latest moved by EACC comes in the wake of an ongoing probe by the David Gikaria-led committee where it emerged the board sat 112 times contrary to circular by the SRC capping.

Gikaria queried the meetings convened by the board and perceived encroachment on the firm's management.

Just like EACC and the MPs said they had received complaints that the board was interfering with the management and was going beyond its oversight mandate to implement some plans, which is the role of the company’s management.

Five of the nine board members were appointed in 2020 after the previous directors quit in unexplained circumstances.

The grilling follows the August 5, letter written to Eng Oduor, Yeda and copied to the Ministry of Energy officials over the investigations by EACC.

He said the removal of Ngugi was attributed to conflict of interest. “The commission is undertaking investigation on the reported complaints to inform further action against those found culpable,” stated the EACC boss then.

Board involvement in procurement 

Mbarak said there were allegations the board is involved in procurement functions contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (PPADA), the State Corporation Act Cap 446 and the Mwongozo Code.

“It is further reported that the board has been cancelling tenders without due regard to the provisions of PPADA on the cancellation of a procurement,” he said.

The EACC boss censured the board decisions and actions, noting that they have adversely affected the institution and exposed it and taxpayers to heavy financial liability in the event of litigation. The same was also copied to Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge.

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