Why Minister must apologize to Kenyan consumers

By Faith Mwende

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is surprised at the Industrialization Minister Mr. Henry Kosgey\’s move to name someone who was not short listed through due process as the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) MD.

As a Federation which is very interested in the work of Kebs, we are dismayed first at the unprecedented delay in naming the Kebs MD since Eng. Dr. Kioko Mang\’eli left and secondly, at the impunity and arrogance displayed by the Minister in the belated move. It was indeed not surprising that the Minister does not seem to be reading from the same script as his Assistant Minister, Permanent Secretary and the Kebs board of directors.

Cofek insists that Kebs cannot be the organization that sets national standards and does not apply itself especially on such a critical area as senior management appointments.

The position of Kebs MD is a sensitive one especially from the perspective of the vulnerable consumers. The holder of such a position must always be seen to be beyond reproach. He or she must be seen to be a person who is morally upright, qualified and not linked to narrow partisan and ethnic strangleholds.

We cannot have a justification, as a country, to invest in developing and determining high standards and then wash them down the drain by irregularly and unprocedurally appointing a CEO to such an agency.

Mr Kosgey must tell Kenyans why KPMG process of recruiting a CEO was stillborn; how much it cost the Kenyan taxpayer and the role of the Kebs if all he could do was to hand-pick a person best known to him as CEO of Kebs.

Mr Kosgey owes Kenyan consumers a serious apology. As his statement on Kebs CEO appointment is awaited in Parliament next Thursday, it was improper for the Minister to have pulled the rag from the floor of Parliament to proceed and name the new MD.

We urge Mr. Kosgey to find in his heart the only courage and respect remaining for himself and for fellow Kenyan consumers by immediately apologizing and promptly rescinding his unacceptable decision. Otherwise Kenyan consumers will not allow the said appointee to take up his job at Kebs.

Meanwhile we urge President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga to get interested in such major public appointments to ensure the appointees and the process complies with Chapter 6 on Leadership and Integrity of the new constitution.

Finally, we urge Parliament to fast-track tabling of the Consumer Protection Bill. Thank you.

(The writer is Programs Officer with Consumers Federation of Kenya)

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