AG says Mwatela must oblige

September 15, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 15 – Attorney General Amos Wako on Monday threw a spanner in the works in the controversy surrounding embattled Central Bank Deputy Governor Jacinta Mwatela, saying that she can be removed from office.

Wako said the office of the Deputy Governor was not constitutional, and as such she did not enjoy security of tenure such as that accorded judges.

“The constitutional holders are well known and the provision which secures their tenure is provided for under the constitution.  Neither the Governor or the Deputy Governor nor the Director of Kenya Anti Corruption Commission are mentioned there,” he asserted.

President Mwai Kibaki transferred Mwatela from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) last Wednesday, appointing her as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands.

She however refused to vacate office, arguing that the President could not arbitrarily remove her from her job at the CBK.

On Friday, Mwatela wrote to Civil Service Head Francis Muthaura responding to his letter which had informed her of the transfer.

“In order to help me understand this appointment, kindly clarify to me how I am supposed to perform two high responsibilities since I am still the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Kenya as duly appointed by His Excellency Mwai Kibaki,” her reply read.

She said that her appointment as Deputy Governor was done under section 11 (2) of the Central Bank of Kenya Act and was valid for a period of four years from May 12, the year 2005.

She attached a copy of gazette notice 3917 for ease of Muthaura’s reference.  “I am not aware of its (Gazette Notice) revocation and want a clarification as soon as possible,” Mwatela’s response said.

In an interview last week, she told Capital News that the issue of vacating her office at the CBK did not arise.

“You people have been asking me if I am still in office.  Is there something that happened that you people know that I am not aware of” she asked.

She said the Act under which she was appointed gave her security of tenure and none of the reasons that would warrant her removal from office applied to her.

“I am neither dead nor mad or suffering any insanity that is incapacitating me and I have not been charged with any criminal Act to warrant revocation of my appointment,” she said.

Her transfer from the CBK elicited protest from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which said it was contrary to the law.

Committee chairman Bony Khalwale said Thursday that the President contravened the law when he moved Mwatela to the Ministry of Northern Kenya and other arid areas as Permanent Secretary.

“We read mischief and we will request for a ministerial statement from the relevant ministry over the transfer,” he said.

Members of the PAC resolved to raise the matter when Parliament resumes in October.

Section 11 (2) of the CBK Act sets out the instances under which the appointment of Governor, Deputy Governor or a director can be terminated by the President.

Any of the three can be removed if judged bankrupt, convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, fraud, moral turpitude or declared to be of unsound mind.

Mwatela who has been at the Central Bank for close to 30 years was replaced by Dr Hezron Nyangito who was previously the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Medical Services.



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