Embattled Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) director-general Francis Wangusi has renewed his fight with the agency with the filing of a fresh suit seeking to stop his juniors from usurping his powers.
Mr Wangusi has accused Christopher Kemei, who was picked to act as the CA’s director-general following the former’s suspension in January, of usurping his powers and rendering him irrelevant despite his return to office by a court order.
Mr Kemei is the agency’s director of licensing, compliance and standards.
Mr Wangusi, who resumed his position in February, says Mr Kemei has continued to exercise executive authority – making decisions and approvals that are reserved for the director-general.
The latest suit wants the court to hold the CA board and Mr Kemei in contempt, a move that is seen to signal that Mr Wangusi’s return to the agency’s top job did not resolve but merely suppressed the dispute.
“The purported illegal acting director-general, Mr Christopher Kemei, approved the following requests in the capacity of the director-general between January 31, 2018 and February 5, 2018 even after I had been reinstated as such and with knowledge and service of the court order,” Mr Wangusi says in his petition before court.
The CA has denied the contempt allegations in their earlier response filed by law firm of Igeria and Ngugi Advocates.
Mr Kemei is accused of authorising advertisements for tenders, the constitution of evaluation committee and approving imprest payments – tasks Mr Wangusi reckons are reserved for the director general.
The embattled CA chief executive has listed 46 illegal approvals, directions and correspondence issued by Mr Kemei in a span of one week.
Mr Kemei is accused of authorising re-tendering for consultancy services to undertake review of HR practices and activities, including recruitment, promotion, remuneration and training of CA staff in the past three years.
He is further accused of authorising annual membership contribution to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – a task that is reserved for the director-general.
Mr Wangusi also accuses Mr Kemei of issuing letters to Econet Media Limited, Azam Media Kenya Limited, Multichoice Africa, Star Times and Pan Africa Network Group on February 5 informing them of the decision to restore NTV and KTN News on their networks on February 5.
Mr Wangusi wants the CA board and ICT secretary Joe Mucheru punished for that stand-off, arguing that their late compliance does not free them from the offence of disobeying court orders.
The CA board and the ICT ministry have since denied blocking Mr Wangusi from accessing his office despite being served a court order that nullified the director-general’s suspension.
They insist Mr Wangusi was on February 1 blocked from entering the authority headquarters by plain clothes police officers.
The authority says the officers arrived at the premises at 5.30 am and took over the clearance of visitors.
They blocked Mr Wangusi when he tried to access the building late in the afternoon.
The CA board says Mr Wangusi didn’t show up until February 6, when he accessed his office and was issued with a letter recalling him to office. He then requested to proceed on leave until February 28.
Mr Mucheru has denied blocking Mr Wangusi arguing that his office is not based at the CA’s Waiyaki Way premises and that he is not involved in the conduct of the agency’s affairs.
But Mr Wangusi wants the court to indict the board, arguing that the directors should not be allowed to hide under the umbrella of the National Police Services to disobey court orders.
Run-ins with board
Mr Wangusi has been at the helm of the telecoms sector regulator since 2012 when he took over from Charles Njoroge.
But his current run-ins with the board and the man who was appointed to replace him has exposed his loss of grip on power.
He was allowed back in office after an ugly standoff with authorities that lasted nearly two weeks.