Questions over choice of KEBS boss

October 8, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey has kicked off a fresh row after he went against the recommendation of the board of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and appointed an ‘outsider’ to head the body.

In a gazette notice on Friday, the Minister appointed Joseph Kipketer Koskey as the new MD to replace Eng Kioko Mang’eli who left last year under a cloud of controversy.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 5 (1) of the Standards Act, the Minister for Industrialisation appoints Joseph Kipketer Koskey to be the Managing Director of KEBS,” Minister Henry Kosgey said in the notice.

Mr Koskey’s term runs for three year effective October 1, 2010.

However, Capital News established that Mr Koskey’s name was not in the list of the three candidates who had been shortlisted by the National Standards Council, which is the equivalent of the Bureau’s board.

The council was mandated to select the three and forward the names to the Minister to appoint one from among them.

When contacted by Capital News about the appointment, Permanent Secretary Eng Karanja Kibicho, who sat in the interviewing panel, expressed shock and was categorical that Mr Koskey’s name was not among those that they had picked.

“The Council coded the names of the top three candidates during the interview and I can assure that that name (Koskey) was not among them,” he said on phone from Mombasa.

Eng Kibicho, who said he sat on the Council’s interviewing panel however declined to disclose the top three candidates saying that following the minister’s appointment, this was no longer important.

The PS steered clear of accusing his minister of disregarding the law choosing instead to be diplomatic.

He pointed out that although there are several government circulars that stipulate how the hiring of parastatal heads and other civil servants should be conducted, the Standards Act gives the minister the powers to appoint a person of his choice.

“Good practices provided through various circulars stipulate how Chief Executive Officers of parastatals should be competitively appointed,” he said adding that all civil servants were expected to abide by such policies.

Asked whether the National Standards Council was likely to take any recourse, Eng Kibicho said they would consult to determine the next course of action.

The PS and Mr Kosgey have been on a collision course over the matter which only came to light earlier this week when it emerged that the Council had forwarded a list of possible candidates to the minister, an assertion that his boss vehemently denied.

The row stemmed from accusations and counter accusations that there were people intent on sneaking a name of a person whom the minister favoured.

The appointment immediately raised ruckus from Industrialisation Assistant Minister Ndiritu Muriithi who criticised his minister for going against the NSC’s advice saying it makes a mockery of Kenyans efforts and desire to have institutions that have good governance.

“It (minister’s action) calls into direct question the commitment to reform of key government leaders. It is disheartening that this is happening hot on the heels of the first ever East African Anti-Illicit Conference, where the role of KEBS was brought into sharp focus,” he regretted.

“I disassociate myself with this action and condemn it in the strongest terms possible,” Mr Muriithi added.

The Assistant Minister said the Bureau was a key institution that needs to have the right people in place as its mismanagement would have a direct negative impact on people’s lives.



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