NAIROBI, September 16 – Former Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Deputy Governor Jacinta Mwatela has rejected her appointment as a Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Northern Kenya and Arid areas.,
She told Capital News in an interview at her home on Tuesday that she will instead pursue other interests that are of benefit to the society.
“As a human being I think I do have the right to say: ‘Thanks but I don’t think I can handle that job.’ I like Bob Marley and in one of his songs he says: ‘When one door is closed, another one will be open. This was not the only door God created me for. There are many other doors that are open,” she said.
Mwatela joined the CBK 31 years ago and rose through the ranks. At one time she even served as acting governor.
"I don’t think I have had sufficient time to be with my family. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to be with my family. My youngest child is 16 years. She keeps telling me; Mum you don’t have time for us. Please get more time for us. I think now she is getting compensated for the time lost.”
Mwatela said her transfer shocked her as paying no regard to her feelings.
“It was my secretary who came to the office to tell me: “Have you seen this news flash?”
It was about her transfer by the President, a move that has elicited controversy following assertions that it was done contrary to the law.
“Whoever took this decision, did they see the image of God in me or did they just see me as ‘taka taka’ (Swahili for ‘trash’)? He did not care to how I feel.”
She maintained that she had not been removed from office properly.
“I don’t fit into any conditions that require me to be removed from office. I had to be gazetted to get into office. I have not seen any revocation of that gazettment.”
She said any new responsibilities were not welcome; after all she left University in 1977.
“I need to understand the functions of that ministry. Does it bother you that this ministry is being given to someone who has never worked as a civil servant? She has worked all her years at the Central Bank. Here’s a ministry that has just been created and it’s being given to someone who has no understanding about how ministries are run. And she is going to be the accountable authority for that ministry? Does it bother you? It bothers me,” she said.
“Was it (the redeployment) put there for me to fail?”
Mwatela added that she was not willing to take any public service position.
“Remember I am coming from a job where I thought I had protection. The Attorney General is now telling me at the end of that job that I didn’t have that protection.”
“I see PS’s appointed and the next day the appointment has been removed and there is no explanation. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable to hear of myself… oh, she has been removed the same way I was removed on Monday without anyone talking to me about it. I don’t think I want a repeat. I don’t think this is how I should be handled.”
But the former Iron Lady of the Central Bank said she had come to terms with the cards life had dealt her.
“Right now I feel fine. I have prayed over this. I have had a lot of support from my family. When your child is telling you: ‘Mum it’s ok,’ then you know it’s ok,” Mwatela said.
On Monday, Attorney General Amos Wako said she did not enjoy security of tenure and could be moved from her position at the bank.
On the same day her successor Dr Hezron Nyangito took up office.
“Every cloud has its silver lining,” Mwatela said.
Meanwhile, the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) announced in the meantime that it would form a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mwatela’s transfer.
PAC chairman Dr Bonny Khalwale told a news conference that the committee would also investigate a tender involving the currency printing firm, De La Rue, which reportedly led to Mwatela’s removal from office.
“Mwatela has stated that her removal is as a result of a tender awarded to De La Rue for supply of new generation Kenya currency notes,” he said.
“The PAC wishes to announce that we are immediately launching an investigation into this tender with a view of confirming if Mwatela’s tribulations are a consequence of this tender.”
He said the committee had already notified the Speaker of the National Assembly about the formation of the special committee.
This is the second time the De La Rue contract has come into the light after former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya was alleged to have signed it against the advice of senior CBK officials.
“The public procurement Act has since 1993 been abused in respect of this tender to date. An attempt by former Finance Minister David Mwiraria in 2003 with the blessing of the Cabinet and Parliament to reverse it and subject it to international tendering was suddenly and surprisingly reversed by his successor Kimunya,” the Ikolomani MP said.
Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi who may sit on the investigating committee appealed for Mwatela’s security saying she held vital information that required her to be protected under the public witness protection bill.
The controversy about the De La Rue contract came to light after Khalwale asked Kimunya to explain to Parliament what transpired. At the time, Kimunya said that the agreement entered between the Government and the printing firm was cancelled mutually, even though he was not in a position to say whether the Sh1.9 billion that had been paid had been refunded.