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Puzzle of official said to have two top county jobs

Kakamega County Public Service Board (CPSB) chief executive officer Catherine Gathoni. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Questions over whether Kakamega County Public Service Board (CPSB) chief executive officer Catherine Gathoni was drawing salaries from two counties by holding two public office jobs have persisted even as she denied the claims.

It is alleged that at one point, Ms Gathoni was earning from the County Government of Nakuru where she served as an accountant, and Kakamega county where she held the position of the chief executive officer of CPSB respectively.

Ms Gathoni was sworn in and assumed office on July 15, 2020, and worked for Kakamega County until March 30, 2021, before her secondment from Nakuru to Kakamega on April 1, 2021.

Her appointment to take over at the helm of Kakamega CPSB is still shrouded in confusion, with questions being raised over whether she was an employee of Kakamega or Nakuru County between July 15, 2020, and March 30, 2021.

Details of how much she earned then remain scanty. Ms Gathoni has, however, defended herself against claims that she drew salaries from both counties.

She sought to set the record straight when she appeared before the Kakamega County Assembly Public Service and Administration Committee last week.

“It is a fact I worked with Nakuru County for 30 years but I want to state clearly that I was not on two payrolls as claimed. I was regularly employed and I am in Kakamega rightfully,” Gathoni said.

The claims saw former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya terminate her contract after he discovered Gathoni was still employed as an accountant and on the payroll of the Nakuru county government.

"You were appointed to the post of secretary of the service board with effect from July 15, 2020, on a six-year non-renewable contract,” Oparanya’s letter reads in part.

“In the course of your engagement, it came to our attention that you were still on the payroll of Nakuru County, until May 2021, when you ought to have de-linked from them immediately after you took up the appointment with Kakamega County Public Service Board.

"For these reasons, your contract is hereby terminated and you are released to return to Nakuru with immediate effect,” Gathoni's termination letter reads.

Aggrieved by the sacking, Gathoni sought a review from the Public Service Commission, which overturned Oparanya's decision. Consequently, Governor Fernandes Barasa reinstated her as the CEO in a letter dated November 4, 2022.

While appearing before the committee chaired by Marama South MCA Willis Opuka, Gathoni confirmed that she locked the current board members out of office as advised by the County Secretary during an earlier petition to have the team removed from office.

Oparanya’s decision to terminate Gathoni’s contract has put the current board members heads on the chopping board.

The board members include Catherine Omweno (chairperson), Ambrose Subayi (vice-chairperson), Joel Omukoko, Dr Ralph Wangatiah, Stanley Were and Sylvia Otunga.

The committee is expected to rule on the matter today having concluded hearings last week.

By AFP 1 hr ago
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