Uproar over Kenya anti graft job

September 1, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 1 – The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Advisory Board has protested the re-appointment of Aaron Ringera as Director and accused the President of usurping its powers.

Chairman Okong’o Omogeni told a news conference on Tuesday that the action amounted to the intrusion of independence of the institution. Mr Omogeni was categorical that the board would go ahead with a planned Wednesday meeting called to deliberate the recruitment of Justice Ringera’s successor and those of his two deputies.

“The board categorically states the reappointment contravenes section 8 (3) of the Act that creates the commission. The law provides that the directors should be persons recommended by the Advisory Board and approved by Parliament,” he said in his address immediately after chairing a special board meeting.

The board said it was caught unawares since Justice Ringera – who is the board Secretary – had already invited the members for Wednesday’s meeting.

“It is un-procedural, a contempt of our institutions and amounts to impunity,” protested Mr Omogeni.

President Mwai Kibaki through a gazette notice reappointed Justice Ringera for another five-year term while his two deputies Fatuma Sichale (Legal Services) and Smokin Wanjala (Preventive Services) got a four-year extension each. Their terms of office were set top expire on September 8.

In the appointment the President quoted powers provided under section 8(4) and paragraph 3(2) of the First Schedule of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. However the same law states that anyone appointed as director or assistant directors is to be selected by the board, approved by Parliament and appointed by the President.

The law says the Director or Deputy Director can be re-appointed for a second term but does not mention whether the President has powers to make the re-appointment.

Constitutional Lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo was of the opinion that besides being in conflict with the Act the President’s action undermines the powers of the Advisory Board and belittles its existence and obligations. Mr Waiganjo however said the prerogative of the President as head of all civil servants is a window of opportunity that he could have exploited.

“The broader problem is a constitutional problem. The section that talks about all public servants serving at the pleasure of the president still exists,” he said.

Mr Waigajo said the appointment compromises the spirit of the independence of the crucial institution.

“When the board is ignored then it makes nonsense of the whole institution in a sense. One is not even concerned of the merits and de-merits of Justice Ringera that is for others to decide but it is important that the institutional framework is followed,” he reiterated.

Many have questioned Justice Ringera’s track record and accused him of laxity in fighting big fishes accused of mega grafts among them the multi billion shillings Anglo-Leasing scandal and the long standing Goldenberg. Justice Ringera has however previously defended his office and blamed the office of the Attorney General and the High Court for allegedly frustrating the efforts to conclusively deal with graft.

Mr Omogeni also said the board had resolved to slash the pay perks of the Director and assistant directors by 35 percent. Under the new arrangement the director will take home a package of Sh1.6 million down from the current Sh2.5 million. The four assistant directors will on their part take home Sh1.2 million down from the current Sh1.9 million.

“We have agreed that anybody coming on board whether a new director or the current director will have to take the pay cut,” Mr Omogeni reiterated.


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