Profiles

Stephen Githaiga: The water boss drowned by age manipulation

tarda

Mr Steven Ruimuku during a tour of Kiambere Dam in Embu County in April 2018. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

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Summary

  • According to the union, Mr Githaiga’s passport indicated the date of birth as October 20, 1958 under the name Ruimuku Steven Githaiga.
  • The second identity card, under the name Steven Maina Githaiga, indicated the date of birth as 1953.
  • In response, Mr Githaiga maintained that his passport, identity card, birth certificate, baptismal card and police clearance certificates all showed date of birth as October 20, 1958.
  • He denied claims of a second identity card filed by the union showing different dates.

Having a job remains the biggest dream for many in Kenya and they would strive to do all it takes to keep employment. There is, however a limit to everything as Stephen Githaiga may have learnt the hard way.

His tenure at the helm of the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (Tarda) was brought to a crashing end last week when a judge ruled that his appointment as the managing director was in breach of law—ending his three-decade link with the firm he joined as a trainee financial analyst.

Though Mr Githaiga’s lengthy service at Tarda had been tranquil all through, matters hit a rough patch for him after he rose to the position of managing director in 2015 amid claims of a falsified identification document which lowered his actual age in order to win him a lengthier stay at the water services firm.

Mr Githaiga was also accused of nepotism after allegedly employing some 41 people who are related to him at the agency, claims he disputed.

After joining Tarda in 1984, Mr Githaiga rose through the ranks and was promoted to the position of deputy managing director.

In April 2013, he was appointed the acting managing director pending the recruitment of a substantive office holder but the board later met and recommended to Environment CS to confirm him to the position.

His appointment was confirmed through a Gazette Notice on June 12, 2015, for a term of three years.

And before the lapse of his term, Mr Githaiga applied for renewal of his tenure and the board subsequently met in July 2017 and resolved to renew his appointment.

The move forced the Union of Kenya Civil Servants to file a case in court, challenging the decision by Devolution CS to approve his second tenure.

The union claimed that an audit carried out by the Auditor-General in June 2015 had established that he had changed names and date of birth to avoid retirement.

According to the union, Mr Githaiga’s passport indicated the date of birth as October 20, 1958 under the name Ruimuku Steven Githaiga. The second identity card, under the name Steven Maina Githaiga, indicated the date of birth as 1953.

In response, Mr Githaiga maintained that his passport, identity card, birth certificate, baptismal card and police clearance certificates all showed date of birth as October 20, 1958. He denied claims of a second identity card filed by the union showing different dates.

Other than the claims of falsifying his identity card to avoid retirement, the union alleged that his appointment for the second tenure was irregular because it was made without following due process.

“The court is satisfied based on the records produced that Steven Maina Githaiga and Steven Githaiga Ruimuku are one and the same person, and that the 4th Respondent (Mr Githaiga) had caused to be altered his birth records,” Justice Stephen Radido ruled.

The judge said Mr Githaiga was in violation of public service values and principles,since he stood to benefit by altering the dates in his identity card.

The court noted that the Auditor General’s report for the year ended 2015 established that Mr Githaiga irregularly caused the employment of staff from a particular region, when he was acting managing director.

“The court is satisfied that the 4th Respondent was in breach of the values and principles of public service as well as the requirements on code of conduct and ethics by causing to be employed by the authority, persons related to him,” the judge said.

While quashing the appointment, Justice Radido said the government and the agency failed to provide any evidence that Mr Githaiga’s recruitment in April 2015 was subjected to public participation, competition or merit.

OBVIOUS BREACH

The judge added that the initial appointment failed to meet the expectations, values and principles of the public service and was therefore, a nullity.

“The recommendation by the Authority in 2018 for the appointment and/or renewal of contract of the 4th Respondent, and the renewal of contract by the Cabinet Secretary was founded upon an obvious breach of the guiding norms and cannot be allowed to stand,” the judge said.

The judge directed Tarda to immediately commence the process of recruiting a new managing director as required by law.