How Koskei overruled CS as fresh petition in water agency saga filed

 An aerial view of the Wells' protection works at the Baricho Water Works at the banks of River Sabaki in Malindi Sub County, Kilifi County being undertaken by Coast Water Works Development Agency. [File, Standard]

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei is among those embroiled in the controversy surrounding the ongoing recruitment of the chief executive officer of the Coast Water Works Development Agency.

Yesterday, it emerged that Koskei overruled former Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome, now at Lands, who had annulled the process over allegations of bias.

On September 6, Wahome stopped the process after a section of board members and civil society groups wrote to her alleging that the process favoured some candidates.

But agency chairman, Dr Daniel Mwaringa, wrote to Koskei seeking advice on Wahome’s decision, saying his board concluded a process started by the previous members.

He said the interviews were done on July 20 and 21 at North Coast Beach Hotel and list of top candidates sent to the CS for an appointment.

“The CS signed an omission where curriculum vitae (CVs) and academic certificates were not annexed to the report. We convened a special board meeting and fully complied with the CSs request,” said Mwaringa.

In response, Koskei said the recruitment of the CEO was an expensive affair and that the board should conclude per procedure and law.

“In light of this, you maintain the status quo as we seek the assistance of an investigative agency,” said Koskei, who also vetoed an earlier plan to replace Tsuma as acting CEO.

He asked the board to invite the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to scrutinise the process to ascertain that integrity was upheld.

Critics of the process, including rights activists, have now written to the Cabinet Secretary for Water Zacharia Njeru to protest against the exercise.

In a letter dated December 8 copied to several government agencies, including EACC, they complained of several discrepancies and backed the decision to annul the process.

One-man show

According to the report submitted to Wahome, the recruitment was done by two boards from December 22, last year.

It shows that only one director did the initial shortlisting as opposed to the full committee. The said director prepared the report on January 30 and 31 with support from the company secretary, Mary Okioma.

“The crucial process of verifying the applications was only done by one director, and the ad hoc committee relied on the report prepared by a single director,” reads the petition.

According to the report, the other contentious issue is that on May 10, only one director reviewed the shortlist and made substantial changes to the initial shortlist.

“No minutes made in respect to the shortlisting process, but were combined with the initial minutes, and the chair of the ad-hoc committee signed regardless of her not being part of the shortlisting meeting. Again, the final shortlist was conducted by only one independent director,” states the letter to CS Njeru.

It questions why some shortlisted candidates appeared in the initial report but were missing in the final report. Other discrepancies listed include claims that the shortlisting criteria were discriminatory in that some candidates were disqualified for lack of 15-year experience as required, while others were approved.

The professional certification for some shortlisted candidates was also questioned. The groups also claimed academic and professional certificates were not authenticated.

They added: “The requirements for a leadership course, and specifically strategic leadership development course, is discriminatory as the specific course is for the Public Service. Several candidates had done alternative leadership courses but were locked out by this discriminatory requirement. I do not know why the board during the interviews considered only a leadership course done at the Kenya School of Government and not from other recognized institutions as provided for in the advertisement.”


Some candidates were awarded full marks for the preliminary requirements and disqualified for lack of the same in the shortlisting, while others got zero marks for some mandatory requirements but ended up being shortlisted.

“It is clear at this point that the former CS Water, Irrigation and Sanitation, Alice Wahome, who is the appointing authority, saw these discrepancies, and that is why she called for a fresh recruitment exercise,” states the petition.