Economy

Energy CS bows to pressure, revokes power firm board hire

Kenya's Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma.

Kenya's Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. PHOTO | PSCU

Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has bowed to pressure from Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and revoked her board appointments at the Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation (REREC) that put her at loggerheads with the Council of Governors (CoG).

Dr Juma has appointed four CoG nominees as directors in the power agency after the Attorney-General warned that she had breached the law in excluding representatives from the devolved governments.

Mr Kariuki directed Dr Juma to revoke for the second time an April 20 Kenya Gazette notice that appointed six directors of REREC.

The AG had asked Dr Juma to make fresh board appointments in consultations with the county chiefs to avoid further litigation.

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The minister through a May 17 notice revoked the appointment of the three of the six directors and picked four directors from the devolved governments, including CoG chief executive Mary Mwiti.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Energy appoints…to be members of Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation board. The appointment of Samson Maundu, Henry Rono and Hassan Mohamud Haji is revoked,” said the May 17 Kenya Gazette notice.

The Energy Act of 2019 allows the Cabinet Secretary to appoint three directors and the CoG four.

Dr Juma on April 14 appointed the six directors to serve at the State agency for three years based on the Energy Act of 2006, which ceased to be in force in March 2019.

She revoked the April 14 Kenya Gazette and appointed the six directors through the April 20 notice using the Energy Act of 2019, drawing protests from CoG.

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“It is our advice that the ministry should revoke the fresh gazette notice to the extent that they purport to make appointments that should be made by the council,” Mr Kihara said in a May 6 letter to Dr Juma seen by the Business Daily.

“This will avert unnecessary litigation while ensuring that the corporation has a functional board without undue delay,” he added in the letter copied to the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.

The governors had sought to be enjoined in an ongoing court case.

Dr Juma has been sued for ignoring the CoG nominees and using the defunct Energy Act of 2006, which gave the Cabinet Secretary the right to appoint eight of the 11 REREC board members.

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Activist Martin Njoroge argues in the suit that the Cabinet Secretary used a law that was repealed in 2019 to appoint the six directors.

The move to lock out the CoG nominees strengthened Dr Juma’s hand in control of the REREC board. The Energy Act of 2019 says REREC should have a 10-member board, with its CEO serving as the secretary.

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