Ex-youth fund boss suffers setback in suit against sacking

Embattled chief executive of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Josiah Arabu Moriasi, will not resume office anytime soon after the Court of Appeal suspended proceedings of a case he filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court challenging his removal from office.

In the ruling issued by a three-judge bench, the board’s chairman, Dr Victor Mwongera, will also not be punished because of contempt for disobeying an order to freeze the sacking of Mr Moriasi.

Justices William Ouko, Jamilla Mohammed and Sankale ole Kantai made the ruling after the board filed an appeal against the The Employment and Labour Relations Court’s decision to bar Mr Moriasi’s removal.

Earlier, Labour judge Hellen Wasilwa had cited Dr Mwongera in contempt for defying orders barring removal of Mr Moriasi and he was bound for sentencing.

Arguable appeal

The judges of the appeal’s court found that the board has an arguable appeal against the Justice Wasilwa’s decisions.

“The applicants face the risk of punishment for contempt of court and have been summoned to court in that regard,” said the judges.

In their appeal, the board reckon that the judge erred in ruling that Mr Moriasi’s employment contract was terminated instead of finding that it had lapsed.

Dr Mwongera reckoned that the court order was issued there was no employer–employee relationship between the board and Mr Moriasi.

Trouble began when Mr Moriasi’s contract expired in October last year and was extended by six months. His fixed term contract ended April 30, 2020.

The board then voted to sack Mr Moriasi over claims of poor performance and mismanaging the organisation.

He was replaced in an acting capacity by the fund’s public relations manager Benson Muthendi.

Dr Mwongera had recommended the appointment of lending and investments manager Judy Kimeto to the top job.

Mr Moriasi rushed to court to challenge his sacking, and an order was issued by Justice Wasilwa to maintain the status quo until the case was heard.

However, in his contempt application, Mr Moriasi says on top of blocking access to his office, the board had taken over possession of his official means of transport.

He was appointed the Youth Fund’s CEO in October 2016 for a three-year period with provision in the contract that the term was subject to renewal for a further three years based on performance.