Activists protest delayed appointment of Nakuru assembly clerk

Nakuru MCAs in confrontation at the County Assembly in Nakuru City on May 2, 2024, during a debate for the impeachment motion of Nakuru County Secretary Dr Samuel Mwaura. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

Activists in Nakuru have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the county assembly leadership to begin the process of appointing a substantive clerk.

The activists led by Laban Omusundi claimed that the current acting clerk has been in office for more than a year, which is in contravention of the law. The activists said they will take legal action against the assembly leadership should they fail to take action.

The current acting Clerk Jane Waweru took office on December 29, 2022 after former Clerk Joseph Malinda left.

Omusundi said Section 34(3) of the Public Service Commission Act, No. 10 of 2017 states that a public offer can only serve in acting capacity for one month, and up to a maximum period of six months.

“The crucial question is how long should an employee be employed in an acting capacity?” He posed.

He has threatened to move to court to push for the appointment of a substantive clerk and seek orders to compel Waweru to repay government the entire salary she earned as acting clerk after the expiry of the six-month mandatory period.

The activist also wants the acting clerk surcharged for all the benefits she has enjoyed.

The activist described as unlawful the pro-longed stay of Waweru in an acting capacity and the continued extension of her tenure for more than one year following Malinda’s exit.

“The provisions of acting in the civil service rule are to be executed by the administrative head, not for the administrative head itself to be acting for an extended period without any attempt to close the gap,” he said.

“While it may be argued that prolonged acting on its own is not a violation of any law, we believe the delay by the board to appoint a substantive clerk without any clear reason didn’t align with the general principle of the Public Service Act,” he added. 

The group has joined the call by the Senate to close the existing gap by appointing a substantive clerk.

Moses Gitonga from the National Citizen Engagement Forum (NACEF) said the position of clerk is very powerful and the law should be adhered to in filling the same.

Friends of Devolution Chairman Ben Macharia who has been advocating for good governance in various sectors said advertising the position of the clerk was the only way that will safeguard transparency and accountability at the assembly.

“We as watchdogs of devolution in Nakuru call on the County Assembly Service Board to immediately advertise for the position of the clerk so as to safeguard the openness and accountability at the Nakuru Assembly,” said Macharia.

He noted that Section 18.(1) of the County Assembly of Nakuru Service Act 2016 states that the nomination of a person for appointment as a clerk of the Assembly shall be done through an open, transparent, and competitive recruitment process.

According to lawyer Martin Chege Gakuhi the law is clear on acting employees.

“That position should have been advertised within six months of acting or the acting clerk should be confirmed,” said Gakuhi.

He argued that if she decides to have an extension in an acting capacity, then she should do it voluntarily and not earn a salary.

"She can act at whatever time, but should not have a salary. She can volunteer until the position is advertised and filled," said Gakuhi.

Assembly Speaker Joel Karuri did not respond to calls or messages sent to him via WhatsApp to establish the status of the clerk.

When contacted, Waweru denied all issues raised by the activists, however, she could not provide more details of her appointment and confirmation.

“It is not, can you do your due diligence,” she said when contacted for a comment.

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