Besieged Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) boss Francis Wangusi yesterday won some reprieve after a Nairobi court reinstated him amid a raging succession row at the regulator.
Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Byram Ongaya issued an order stopping the recruitment of the CA director-general’s successor following a petition by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) challenging the recruitment process.“Having listened to the parties, I order that the status quo be maintained and any recruitment, selection or appointment of a new director-general of Communications Authority of Kenya is hereby suspended pending determination of the suit,” ruled Justice Ongaya.Cofek through lawyer Henry Kurauka argued that the CA board last week irregularly appointed Mercy Wanjau to replace Mr Wangusi in an acting capacity despite an earlier order that he continue serving.
Mr Kurauka further argued that the board is currently not properly constituted to undertake the recruitment of director-general and that any appointment made by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru amounted to interfering with the State agency’s independence.He submitted that it was illegal for the CA Chairman Ngene Gituku to lock out Mr Wangusi from office and order him to surrender the authority’s assets in his possession when he has no such powers.“He has no powers to make any changes or appoint any person in any capacity until the board is properly constituted. It will be an abuse of the court powers if the decision to replace the director-general is allowed to stand,” said Kurauka.
But the CA board through senior counsel Prof Githu Muigai argued that Mr Wangsui had been legally removed from office after his second term expired on August 22.Prof Muigai countered that the CS has the authority to appoint a new director-general given that Mr Wangusi had agreed to serve only until the end of his tenure.
“It is like a judge who has attained the retirement age of 70 years and is told to leave the office the next day. Wangusi could not extend his stay even for a day since his contractual term had ended and the board was obliged to appoint a successor so as not to cripple the authority,” said Prof Muigai.Justice Ongaya scheduled the hearing for September 9.This came even as the CA board revoked the privileges Mr Wangusi was entitled to as director-general almost immediately after the board announced Mrs Wanjau as the acting boss. In a letter dated August 22, CA gave him a month to vacate the company house he currently occupies.“You are hereby notified that you have been given thirty days from the date of this letter to vacate the institutional house which you currently occupy,” said a letter signed by Mrs Wanjau.