President Uhuru Kenyatta set to make more appointments
NAIROBI, KENYA: After appointing a lean Cabinet last year and unveiling recent diplomatic postings, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are reportedly working on new management changes to State corporations.
The urgency of the appointments is highlighted by concerns about leadership vacuums as reports indicate more than 70 parastatals have no substantive chief executive officers and the terms of board members have expired.
Consequently, appointments to the positions of chairmen and directors of boards of State corporations are expected in less than a month as a team tasked to reform State Corporations completes its work.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale told The Standard yesterday the new appointments could be made in two weeks following recent changes in security and ambassadorial dockets.
Duale explained once the new boards are constituted and their chairmen appointed, they will recruit chief executive officers through a competitive process. Those whose tenures have lapsed were appointed during retired President Kibaki’s administration.
“I am aware there are a number of parastatal heads whose terms have expired. A number of board chairmen and directors have not been appointed. The next phase of the changes will deal with State Corporations,” he revealed.
Duale added: “We are looking at rationalisation of boards of State Corporations to ensure they meet the constitutional threshold. The President will in two weeks fill the positions of chairmen of boards and directors. The boards will then competitively recruit CEOs. The days of bringing persons from the village are long gone.”
A Task Force headed by the President’s advisor on constitutional affairs Abdikadir Mohammed proposed to reduce the number of parastatals by 75 – from 262 to 187.
But 14 new State firms would be created through the merger of 38 parastatals, the implementation committee headed by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua told the President in a briefing in May.
The Standard established that contracts of all heads of regional authorities, including Ewaso Ng’iro North, Ewaso Ng’iro South, Tana River and Kerio Valley Development Authorities, have expired.
Other State firms without substantive heads include Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Constituency Development Fund Board, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) and the Urban Roads Authority.
“The term of the CDF board is expiring in one month. The CEO has acted for too long. The CDF Board appointments require parliamentary approval,” Duale said.
State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the Government is in a dilemma over appointing of new parastatal chiefs because of the planned mergers.
“The planned merger of Government parastatals has in some ways interfered with the naming of the new heads and the boards. When the exercise is complete, the President will make the appointments,” he said.
“The plan is on course. Once it has followed all the laid-down channels and procedures, the President will act on it,” he added.
Presidential Strategic Communications Unit Director of Public Communication Munyori Buku said: “A major restructuring in the history of parastatals is underway. The reason some appointments have delayed is that you don’t want to make new appointments for agencies that will cease to exist. But for those that are not affected by the changes will be made when it becomes necessary.”
KWS has since the exit of Julius Kipngetich been under an acting Director General, William Kiprono. The term of its board of directors that was headed by former Finance minister David Mwiraria expired months ago and a new one has not been appointed.
The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) is the latest entrant in the list after the term of its Managing Director Waithaka Waihenya ended two months ago.
At KFS, the term of its long-serving Director David Mbugua ended two weeks ago. He was last year given a one-year extended contract by the former Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia after his earlier term ended.
Enquiries by The Standard from the regional bodies’ offices indicate that terms for their executives expired last year as the country was preparing for elections and most of them are still in office without renewal of contracts.
This scenario has hampered smooth running of the water bodies as key decisions cannot be made.
It even goes against the directive by Mr Kinyua early this year to heads of State Corporations who were to retire by July to start mentoring their successors.
Environment and Wildlife Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, under whose docket some of the affected parastatals fall, said appointments of substantive heads are being hampered by the delays in merging government departments.
Mr Lesiyampe said the head of the Civil Service should provide a road-map to ensure smooth running of the corporations.
“The expected merger is holding us back. The terms of heads of parastatals and other government agencies are being extended to enable smooth transitions,” Lesiyampe said.
Lesiyampe said appointments of boards of directors have also been affected, adding that as a measure to ensure business is transacted smoothly, so long as there is a quorum, the boards should be operational.
“There are Government agencies without board heads. So long as there is a quorum for the members to transact business, they should go on as we wait for the way forward,” he advised.
Political observers, however, attribute delays to sharing positions in the plum State entities. Early this year, efforts to merge KWS, KFS and Nyayo Tea Zones, which could have paved way for the Forest and Wildlife Service, ran into problems after wildlife protection groups and other conservationists threatened to withdraw funding from the sector.
Nyayo Tea Zones also protested at the move by KFS to take over forests under its jurisdiction. This is despite Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu’s support of the merger, which would have seen it being headed by a director general.
Sources say the draft merger documents are still in the hands of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC). They will then be forwarded to the Kenya Law Reform Commission and finally to the State Law Office for fine-tuning.
“From the State Law Office, it will move to Parliament where members will debate before passing it. If the President will sign it into law, it will take a year or two for it to be implemented,” said a source at the Parastatals Reform Secretariat office who declined to be named.
Two bills, the Government Owned Entities Bill 2014 and the National Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill (2014), have been submitted to CIC