, NAIROBI, Kenya July 18 – Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi has kicked off a fresh storm after announcing that he had retired COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board.
Also retired from the board is the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) Jacqueline Mugo who had served as board member for 11 years.
Kambi who made the announcement on Friday said he acted within the law in line with the new NSSF Act 2013 which states that no board member can serve for more than two terms of three years each.
Section 8 (1) of the Act states: A Trustee shall hold office for a term of three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one further and final term.
“In order to inject new blood to the management of the fund and in compliance with Section 8 of the NSSF Act, I have retired from the Board of Trustees; Francis Atwoli and Jacqueline Mugo who have served in the board for 15 and 11 years respectively for not complying with Section 10(III) of the Act,” he stated.
Kambi’s announcement is also contained in the latest issue of the Kenya Gazette dated July 9, 2014.
Atwoli who has been NSSF’s board member for 15 years swiftly responded, and accused Kambi of “misreading the law by purporting to retire me.”
Kambi however, insists that he has the mandate to retire board members and has already written to the workers union and FKE to nominate new representatives.
“I give each of them ample time to give us their nominees, and then I will consider but the nominee doesn’t have to come from COTU,” he said in what is likely to renew rivalry between COTU and the Jubilee Coalition government-backed Federation of the Public Service Trade Unions of Kenya (PUSETU-K)
He has denied reports that he enjoys frosty relations with Atwoli who has always criticised his work at the Labour Ministry.
Kambi said he replaced Atwoli because he had also missed nine consecutive meetings without the permission of the chairman.
Section 8 (b) (i) of the Act states that a Trustee can be removed from office by the Cabinet Secretary if the Trustee has been absent from three consecutive meetings of the Board without the permission of the chairperson and is unable or has neglected to furnish any plausible reason for his absence.
But in a quick rejoinder, Atwoli dismissed the CS saying that he had no authority to replace him from the Board.
The fiery trade union boss told a news conference that the he will continue carrying out his mandate at the board because “I was nominated by workers”.
“Kambi Kazungu as a person, and as a minister and as a government he has no any slightest authority whatsoever, under any known law of the land to retire me or the Federation of Kenya Employers,” Atwoli said.
Section 8 (2) provides that the Cabinet Secretary shall appoint one third of the members of the Board in a staggered manner separated by two months so that the respective expiry dates of their terms shall fall at a different time.
Atwoli further clarified at he had served at the Board for nine years which was the tenure allowed by the repealed Act adding that the labour movement was in the process of the selecting a nominee to replace him.
The Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) came to Atwoli’s defence saying that the move by the Labour CS was ‘laughable, inconsequential and difficult to justify’.
“Kambi has no basis to determine the specific names the nominating agencies can forward. And as long as the said nominating agencies have not requested for a replacement, he cannot revoke their appointments. His move to remove the only two voices that stand against his manipulation must be condemned by all Kenyans,” COFEK tweeted soon after the announcement.
Kambi and Atwoli have clashed severally, including when they disagreed on the implementation of the Sh5 billion Tassia II Settlement Scheme, and later over the registration of rival trade union PUSETU-K which he accused of being used to muzzle him.