, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – The Board of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has been blocked from recruiting a new chief executive.
The order will remain in force pending the hearing of a dispute lodged by two distinguished scholars, Dr Rashid Aman and Prof Philip Aduma, who had been short-listed for interviews and later recommended for the high-profile job.
Industrial Court Judge Stewart Madzayo issued an injunction against the KEMRI Board, the Public Health and Sanitation Minister and the Attorney General barring them from re-advertising for fresh interviews until the matter is heard next Monday.
The two aggrieved candidates are seeking orders to compel the minister to nominate the successful interviewee to take up the post of KEMRI director and chief executive officer following recommendations by the management board dated last March 6.
Dr Patrick Orege was ranked third in the interview.
They have cried foul that the decision of the board\’s chairman to re-advertise the post was biased, malicious and prejudicial to their interests. They have protested that the board\’s action was an abuse of authority and had resulted in financial loss to the duo.
The decision to replace them through fresh interviews had portrayed them as incompetent, unqualified and unworthy of their personal and professional integrity, according to court papers filed by lawyer Tom Wachakana.
According to the new advert placed in one of the local dailies on January 22, prospective candidates are required to be aged between 40 and 55 years, be holders of post-graduate and masters degrees and have 10 years post-doctoral research experience. Those eligible for interviews were required to have sent their applications by February 10.
Dr Aman and Prof Aduma have complained that the new qualification criteria was deliberately designed to lock them out of the race for the lucrative post and that it was apparent that there was a preferred candidate to surpass them.
Dr Monique Wasunna was appointed acting KEMRI director on September 18, 2008 following the dismissal of Dr Davy Koech as CEO and Chief Research Officer of the international institution.
During the 78th management board meeting held on April 11, 2008 it was resolved that the position be filled competitively by hiring a human resource consultancy to advertise and shortlist six prospective candidates for interviews.
PFK Consulting Ltd reportedly undertook the exercise by advertising the vacancy on October 15, 2008 and presented a report to the board\’s staff and finance committee on January 16 last year. An interview panel was constituted and conducted interviews in February 12 and 13 last year.
The names of the three top candidates were presented to the board in March 2009 with approval to the minister to nominate the CEO. But the matter has remained unresolved to-date, the two complainants argued.