, NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 19 – Kenya Wildlife Service Director General, Brigadier John Waweru, is on the spot over the interdiction of four senior management staff whom he accused of gross misconduct.
Waweru found himself at cross-hairs with MPs drawn from the Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday after he was put to task to explain why he asked the officials to step aside, one of whom is Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali’s sister, with the bone of contention being that the four have not been furnished with show cause letters to date.
In a communication dated May 16 this year, the agency suspended Lynette Muganda (Deputy Director Human Capital), Michael Odhiambo (Deputy Director Corporate Services), John Mwangi (Deputy Director, Finance and Administration) and Christopher Oludhe (Head, Supply Chain Management) with immediate effect.
Edin Kalla, Deputy Director Parks and Reserves, was also sent on terminal leave.
“Every person has a right to be given written reason for any administrative action. These officers who have been interdicted including my sister have not been explained to why they were asked to step down to date,” he protested.
Washiali who also doubles up as the National Assembly Majority Chief Whip accused Waweru of high-handedness citing the nature in which the interdictions were hurriedly done devoid of the Board of Trustees input.
“You cannot have taken such a decision from hearsay. I am surprised the board is mute on this issue making me to wonder if there was any external influence on the decision that you made,” he said.
Waweru who has been in office just under two months following the gazettement of his appointment on March 13, defended his actions, telling the MPs that he had compelling reasons to believe that the said officers were involved in shady deals that threatened to paralyze the operations of the agency.
He noted that he relied on the 2017/208 audit report that pointed out significant anomalies on the respective departments held by the four said individuals.
“I am not doing any militarization of KWS. I am trying to get systems to work in such a way that KWS can be able to go back to where it was by way of revenue collection, functions and its efficiency in operations. I want to assure members that once I complete with the investigations and the four are found not to be liable, they will be reinstated,” he said.
MPs Were Ong’ondo (Kasipul) and Hillary Kosgei (Kipkelion West) held that the interdictions were purely done out of malice because the four were involved in an ongoing multi-billion shillings tender revenue collection system that is evaluated to be at Sh77 million.
“I am tempted to believe that the officers were relieved of their duties because of the tender which I presume had attracted a lot external interest prompting the Director General to act in the manner he did,” Kosgei said.
“You cannot convince me you coming in within two months you have already gone through the audit reports and the HR manual and then you suspend people, it’s impossible,” he said.
Waweru however, dismissed the reports, clarifying that his actions were purely done on professional grounds.
“I did not act on malice and I am not witch-hunting anybody. I was only following due process,” he said.
Committee chair Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) committed to having the suspended officials appear before the committee to give their side of the story even as the investigations get underway.
“The committee has not solved the issues surrounding the tender and we will endeavour to have all the concerned parties over the issue appear before us before a determination is done which will be presented before the House,” he said.