Vision 2030 Director General Mugo Kibati’s position is now facing serious challenge, only weeks after two other senior officers in key institutions were removed from office.
Concern has been raised over the process of his appointment to head the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat (VDS) in 2009 without going through an interview.
And on Monday, Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) went to court seeking the revocation of his appointment.
The move to challenge Kibati’s position comes hot on the heels of cases that saw Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Joseph Koskey and Communications Commission of Kenya Director General Charles Njoroge exit office for being hired irregularly.
Vision 2030 Director General Mugo Kibati during a past function.
It co-ordinates Government economic policies, including regional and international cooperation policies and is also involved in preparation of the planning components of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the Fiscal Strategy Paper and requisite budget documents for various projects.
Kibati has admitted that he did not apply for the job because he was not initially "interested in working for the Government."
When The Standard spoke to Kibati on Friday, he claimed that he only took the position because "they convinced me to take up the job," apparently referring to Planning PS Edward Sambili who in a letter dated June 4, 2009 recommended Kibati’s appointment to Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura.
But the controversy about Kibati’s recruitment also extends to his salary. By some accounts, he once earned Sh1.48 million in one month against Sh730,000 approved by the VDS in December 2008 and Sh750,000 recommended by Public Service PS Titus Ndambuki mid last year.
According to reports from the secretariat, efforts to oust Kibati received a boost following the August sacking of Kebs boss Koskey.
Rejected by board
Koskey was kicked out by Acting Industrialisation Minister Amason Kingi following a split in the Kebs board that had partially rejected his recruitment by suspended Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey.
Now disaffected colleagues of Kibati’s at VDS argue that his employment raises similar issues to Koskey’s, alleging that Kibati’s recruitment was not competitive.
The Standard has documents showing recruitment of key employees to the VDS was done in mid June 2009 by the VDS Board and a panel of PSs.
Two phases of interviews were done and no one qualified, according to Dr Sambili’s letter to Muthaura.
A memo by Dr Sambili (dated December 19, 2008) to Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya shows that 59 applications were received for the post of director general with Messrs Kapkirwok R Jason, Julius Gatune Kariuki, Dickson Khainga, Dr Wahome Gakuru, Antony Kilele and Dr Gachau Kiuna recommended for the post.
In his letter, Sambili indicated that Dr Kiuna scored 80 per cent, followed by Khainga with 62 per cent and Kapkirwok with 56 per cent.
The PS then recommended that "the best overall candidate be offered the job", adding that Dr Kiuna was the most suitable for the post.
Mr Judah Abekah was recommended for the post of Director (Enablers and Macro), Mr Gituro Wainaina for Director of the Social and Political Pillars of Vision 2030 goals and Mr Andrew Toboso for Director of Strategy, Marketing and Communication.
The chain of events from here is not clear but Sambili later wrote to Muthaura, disclosing that the initial list was disregarded giving rise to fresh advertisement and interviews on May 19, 2009.
A part of the letter reads: "A total of six candidates were interviewed. This was the second time we were conducting the interviews for the same position (of director general)."
Sambili alleges that none of the candidates "interviewed the first time qualified for the position" and asserts that he was not impressed by the outcome of the second interview, either, which saw the immediate former Gwassi MP Zaddock Syong’oh emerge as the best.
According to tallies disclosed by Sambili, Syong’oh received 71 per cent from the panel of interviewers.
Mr Kithinji Kiragu was given 65.4 per cent, Mr Julius Gatune Kariuki, 63 per cent while Dr Mohamed Omar Mohamud was rated at 58.4 per cent.
The memo also shows that Dr
In Sambili’s memo, "None of the candidates emerged as outstanding and ready to take up the position of Director General of Vision 2030."
He then went ahead to make a suggestion.
"In view of this and further to your discussion with my minister, I hereby forward to you these names — Mugo Kibati, Sam Mwale, Betty Maina and Stephen Wainana for fresh consideration and possible appointment by the president."
Sambili did not answer his cell-phone when contacted by The Standard but Kibati was willing to discuss how his salary was arrived at.
"I just negotiated mine (salary) with the Government," he said, and added that when he was approached to take the job "I was made aware that such negotiations take place."
The Standard has received a payment voucher for July 2009 indicating that a Mr Paul Christopher Mugo Kibati was entitled to a gross payment of Sh1.48million. This included a salary for Sh960,000, Sh170,000 for house allowance and Sh300,000 in entertainment and extraneous allowances.
However Sh437,000 was to be deducted as Pay As You Earn leaving a net pay of Sh1.041 million.
The VDS Board recommended a monthly pay of Sh730,000, including Sh430,000 in basic pay, Sh80,0000 for house allowance and Sh220,000 of extraneous allowance for the position.
And a letter to a Mugo by Ndambuki dated July 16 last year discloses that after "necessary consultations and taking into account the mandate of Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat" it had been decided that the director general would earn Sh750,000, which included a basic salary of Sh500,000, Sh90,000 in house allowance and Sh160,000 of entertainment and extraneous allowance.
In his letter, Ndambuki said that all staff at the secretariat "should be recruited competitively" and added that there would be no alteration to basic pay for the term of contract given any employee.
The Standard, however, was unable to establish how much Kibati earns. (The Standard/David Ochami)
Additional reporting By Judy Ogutu
A consumers lobby wants the appointment of Director General of Vision 2030 Mugo Kibati quashed, citing anomalies in his recruitment.
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) argues that unless the case is urgently determined, they will "suffer great loss and damage because living standards will remain low and Kenyans will fail to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030."
Through its advocate Mr Henry Kurauka, Cofek wants the High Court to allow it to apply for orders quashing Kibati’s appointment. Also sought for is permission to apply for orders prohibiting Kibati from continuing to act as the Director General of the Vision Delivery Secretariat.
Cofek further wants the court to allow it to seek orders compelling the Vision Delivery Board and a panel of Permanent Secretaries to competitively and through public participation and in an open manner interview and choose the best candidate for appointment as director general within the provisions of the law.
In addition, they want the court to issue temporary orders suspending the decision to appoint Kibati.
Cofek, which is suing through its officials Stephen Mutoro, Ephraim Githinji Kanake and Henry Meshack Ochieng’, claims the Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 ignored presidential and legal guidelines in appointing Kibati.
They argue that President Kibaki had outlined guidelines in a gazette notice that the respondents blatantly ignored. Such a decision, they contend was illegal, unjustified, unlawful, unreasonable, irrational, in bad faith and tantamount to discrimination.
The minister’s decision, they argue, was tantamount to impunity because according to them, Kibati had not applied for the position and was also not interviewed by a panel of PSs, who finalised interviews on May 19, 2009.
"The 3rd respondent (Vision Delivery Board) is under legal duty to recruit its director general in a competitive, transparent, fair and open manner," argues Cofek.
It is their argument that Kibati’s appointment contravenes Article 10(2)(c) of the Constitution.
"The Constitution demands that public participation in public recruitment is paramount," they said.
In a sworn statement in support of the case, Mutoro says that under Section 7(1) of the said gazette notice, the director general would be appointed by the president following a competitive recruitment process.
Mutoro further claims there were six candidates who were interviewed by the Vision’s Delivery Board and a panel of PSs.
The case is expected to be heard on Tuesday. (The Standard)