Tuesday, July 29, 2008



July 29, 2008
By Standard Team
The Standard

Two Cabinet ministers last night dug in for a fight as the storm over jobs swirled, sucking the eighth ministry — Agriculture.

Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, the Medical Services minister, and Mrs Charity Ngilu, his counterpart at the Water ministry, defended their actions and dared critics to drop the gauntlet at their feet.

Lamu DC Charles Mwaze (left) calms former Lamu County Council Chairman Omar Famau during a Lands Minister James Orengo’s meeting with Lamu residents on Sunday evening. PHOTO: Maarufu Mohamed

On Monday, a defiant Nyong’o fired back at critics opposing his recent appointments at his ministry saying: "We must dismantle the cartels that are causing rot in the provision of essential medical services.

"Those with misgivings can visit my office or the Permanent Secretary. I will ensure the right people are in the right places."

Nyong’o said he would not retract on the changes and challenged the organisations fighting the reforms to account for their achievements in the sector.

"They claim I recycled retirees, but Dr Kipkerich Koskei (Chief Pharmacist and Registrar Pharmacy and Poisons Board) is an appointee of the Public Service Commission," said Nyong’o.

"I know many retirees in their 60s and 70s who are still in public service. Why should they selectively criticise my appointments? I have no apologies," Nyong’o said.

In another statement last night, Nyong’o further defended the appointment of Koskei and Dr Richard Muga to head crucial boards in his ministry, describing the two as professionals worthy of the positions.

He also sought to clarify that while he appointed Muga, a former Director of Medical Services, to chair the Kenya Medical Services Agency (Kemsa) probe taskforce over claims of mismanagement, Koskei’s appointment was done by the Public Service Commission.

Nyong’o was reacting to criticism by professional organisations over the appointment of former chief executives to head boards they formerly served.

Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association and Kenya Pharmaceutical Association have accused Nyong’o of "recycling retirees".

Nyong’o said Koskei was appointed to the post by the Public Service Commission in 1996, but irregularly removed in 2002. He described the removal as "regrettable" and accused the Narc Government of breaking the law.

He said Koskei remained Chief Pharmacist and Registrar to the Poisons Board with no responsibilities until his reinstatement this month and noted that the officer had never been a subject of any disciplinary action in his career.

He, therefore, said it was only the PSC that could revoke the appointment.


On her part, Ngilu warned that performance would be the key indicator in the water sector even as she pointed out that many well-funded projects had stalled under senior engineers.

"I stand by my decisions. They are in best interest of Kenyans and in tandem with Vision 2030," Ngilu said.

An engineer at the Water ministry claimed that a junior official in Job Group P was promoted to Job Group S to enable him occupy a senior position. His promotion was effected in 2005.

"This demoralised many of us who inducted him in the ministry," the engineer, who requested anonymity, told The Standard.

Mr Wanguhu Ng’ang’a, the Water Services Regulatory Board chairman, took his war with Ngilu a notch higher with the demand that the minister and the Ps, Mr David Stower, be sacked.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, Ng’ang’a urged President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to "tame the behaviour of the minister and her PS", saying they were making decisions which undermined State procedures and protocol.

"Ngilu has no power to dissolve any board or to sack anyone sitting in any board. She is being misadvised by the PS and it is for that am appealing to Kibaki and Raila to kick them out," Ng’ang’a, who criticised the creation of Tana-Athi Water Services by the minister, said.

He dismissed the new entity as illegal.

At the weekend, Ng’ang’a had accused Ngilu and Stower of subverting regulations in discharging their responsibilities.

But as the ministers spoilt for a fight, the epicentre of the storm appeared to shift from Afya House and Maji House to Kilimo House where a controversy over appointments burst into the open.

At Kenya Sugar Board, which is under the Agriculture ministry, a new board is set to be inaugurated today without a substantive chief executive.

An acting official has held fort since November last year. Yesterday, there was no word it would be filled, even as behind-the-scenes lobbying intensified.

The vacuum has been blamed for the chaos gripping the sugar import sector, with analysts suggesting that Agriculture minister William Ruto has not benefited from expert guidance on policy issues in the industry.

It is their view that the minister has operated from the deep end where he found himself cast as he took up the docket.

Ms Rosemary Mkok has been acting in place of Mr Andrew Oloo Otieno, who was suspended over allegations of abuse of office in the Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies receivership and disposal saga.

Yesterday, the Sugar Campaign Foundation Chairman, Mr Peter Kegode, appeared to open a new war front with a call on the minister to set a timetable for privatisation of mills.

He argued that 70 per cent of the industry was in the hands of Government.

Kegode urged the minister to appoint qualified and focused individuals, who could guide him reshape the industry.

At Sony Sugar — one of the country’s leading millers — several managerial appointments were still pending.

Some of those invited for interviews last week as liaison and legal officers were sent away without sufficient explanation.

At Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute (Ketri) — another parastatal under the Agriculture ministry — the board was disbanded in 2003 and has never been reconstituted.

Its services have been transferred to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

At Ardhi House, Lands Minister James Orengo has reshuffled up to 300 clerks within the department, throwing the ministry into panic.

The changes started last week. The clerks are reportedly being moved to other ministries.

At the Prisons Department, warders continued to ponder the fate of promotions after they sat interviews, warning that it continued to cause anxiety and transparency would be compromised.

Reports by David Ohito, Elizabeth Mwai and Isaac Ongiri