Court bars Uhuru appointees to board of electricity agency

A court has temporarily barred eight members of the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) Board of Directors from discharging their duties following a dispute on their appointments.

The affected directors are Wacuka Ikua (Chairperson of the Board), Brig. Hassan Sora, Rhoda Njuguna, Wahome Gitonga, Mary Mwiti, Eva Sawe, Samuel Mugo Kimani and John Karamunya Limakamar. The court also suspended their appointments.

Ms Ikua was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta through a gazette notice dated April 14, 2022, while the other members were appointed by Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma in May and August. They were hired to serve for a period of three years.

The court order was issued by Justice Hedwig Ong’udi in a suit filed by Mr David Simiyu, who claims the appointments breached the law over lack of competition and transparency in the recruitment.

The petitioner has also questioned CS Juma’s powers to appoint four members of the board.

According to the petitioner, based on provisions of the Energy Act (2019) the CS should have appointed only three members while the other four should have been appointed by the Council of Governors.

“Although Section 45(1) of the Energy Act, 2019 provides that the Council of Governors shall appoint four members of the Corporation’s Board of Directors, the Cabinet Secretary has purported to usurp and illegally exercise this function,” says Mr Simiyu.

He argues that the CS committed an illegality. The judge transferred the case to the Labour Relations Court for hearing and directed that the CS and the Attorney General should file their responses within 21 days.

The order, which stops the directors from undertaking any functions or duties, will remain in force until September 19, 2022, when the case will be mentioned for further directions.

In the suit, Mr Simiyu claims that the CS violated the provisions of Section 45(1)(e) of the Energy Act, 2019 which provides that the CS should only appoint three members of the Corporation’s Board of Directors.

“The CS unlawfully usurped the statutory role of the Council of Governors which according to Section 45(1)(f) of the Energy Act, 2019 provides that the said Council shall appoint four members of the Corporation’s Board of Directors,” said the petitioner.

He says the appointment of Ms Mwiti, Ms Sawe, Mr Kimani and Mr Limakamar, who are employees of the Council of Governors, was illegal since the law provides that the appointment should be by the CoG in a manner that is competitive, transparent and based on merit.

“The appointment of both the Chairperson and members of the Corporation’s Board of Directors are illegal, null and void given that they were not undertaken through a process that is transparent, procedural, competitive and merit-based as required by the Constitution of Kenya,” says Mr Simiyu.

He also argues the hiring violated the provisions of the Energy Act, which stipulates that the appointment of the chairperson and members of the Board should take effect at different times so that respective expiry dates of their terms of office fall at different times.

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