A judge has found Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) chief executive officer Wilson Muthaura in contempt of court after failing to act on orders issued on reinstating a suspended official.
The court has, however, directed Mr Muthaura to reinstate Albert Otochi, as the managing director of the Kenya Tea Packers (Ketepa) and Japheth Sayi as the general manager of KTDA Power Company as a substitute for the contempt charges.
Judge B O Manani, in a ruling dated December 15, also directed the CEO to reinstate the full salary of the two officials, which had been cut to half after their suspension in September.
In a letter dated September 22, KTDA suspended Mr Otochi and another company official and placed them on half salary, however, the court restrained the agency from effecting the directive.
The two officials went to court in September after they were served with a show-cause notice for allegedly interacting with some directors of KTDA.
“It is impermissible for a litigant to act in respect of a court order in the manner that the respondents have done. They had a duty to ensure that the claimant’s contract ran uninterrupted in terms of court orders… they defiled the orders and they are therefore in contempt of court,” read the ruling.
“I will, therefore, require the respondents to purge the contempt by paying the claimant his full salary, pending further orders of the court. I will also require the respondents to cease the disciplinary process in terms of the court orders of September 29 by setting aside the suspension of the claimant pending further direction by the court,” the court said.
According to Mr Otochi, Mr Muthaura is misrepresenting himself as the group chief executive officer, yet he is the general manager of human resources and administration and hence not his supervisor.
He says issuing the letter when he is not his supervisor is unlawful.
He further says the CEO started the disciplinary process against him, while the human resource policy says suspension should only be issued where there are pending investigations.
Mr Otochi says he was suspended, yet there are no pending investigations.
Further, he says the group HR policy also allows him to interact with directors, and the purported charges for gross misconduct for interacting with directors are illegal.
Mr Muthaura was appointed as KTDA's chief executive following the suspension of the former head Lerionka Tiampati.