The monopoly of the first family in the aviation industry, more than any consideration, determines what goes on in Kenya’s airports.
With the recent ‘sacking’ of Kenya Airways Managing Director Lucy Mbugua over a sh. 9 billion tendering scandal (9 billion is the amount of money given to at least three counties for at least three years to run their affairs on) which also saw the axing of three other middle level managers, a return into how Mbugua herself got appointed to the position will re-freshen you into understanding the intricacies of this multi-billion scandal which is just one of the many big money scandals rocking Uhuru regime but with a hand at the very heart of the presidency.
It is worth noting that the sacking itself is a choreographed bureaucratic manoeuvre to clean up the meticulous rip-off. Ms Mbugua is a regime mistress and any law will be bent to return her to her position. The one month dismissal is only meant to hoodwink the gullible public that corruption is being fiercely fought. Ditto!
Ms Lucy Mbugua’s appointment was steeped in conspiracies, collusion and controversies from the start. She was propelled to the MD of KAA post ‘by all means necessary’ which prompted consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) to threaten go to court. This happened because someone wanted her there.
But is not just Mbugua whose appointment as MD had been sexed up. Before her, Stephen Gichuki, recommended for appointment as MD to replace outgoing George Muhoho had his appointment initially rejected by MPs in what they said was a ranking soÂ apart from the rest “suggesting that the ranking was skewed for a particular purpose or to favour a particular candidate.”
Transport Minister Amos Kimunya would however appoint him in the position. The Deputy MD then, Mathews Wamalwa, was overlooked and did not even make it to the shortlist, despite having better credentials than Gichuki.
Gichuki would later be sacked, paving way for Lucy Mbugua to act as MD before being propelled to the position officially. Like Gichuki, Mbugua’s appointment would also be steeped in the same ethnic favouritism allegations, but she would get her way in, thanks to Transport Cabinet secretary Eng. Michael Kamau, acting for the presidency.
Apart from Cofek, the country’s Ombudsman – Commission for Administrative Justice – recommended the sacking of a senior director in President Uhuru’s office whose ‘extreme bias’ saw Mbugua ‘topping’ the interviews for the MD post.
Joseph Irungu, as a Director of Administration at OP (Ministry of Coordination of National Government) and seconded to the KAA Board as a Director gave Mbugua’s competitors low marks while awarding Mbugua the highest marks possible dueing the interview, a fact noted by Cofek and agreed by Ombudsman:
â€œThe margin of award of marks by Mr Irungu between his best candidate Ms Lucy Mbugua (239) and his worst candidate Hudson Aluvanze (105) is the highest by 134. This is in our opinion is too big a margin raising suspicion. Further it is noted that the 4 candidates were awarded extremely low marks in an attempt to deliberately favour Ms Lucy Mbugua. It is noted that if Mr Josephâ€™s Irunguâ€™s computation was to be removed, Ms Lucy Mbugua will move from 1st to 4th position, a clear indication of bias arising from Mr Irunguâ€™s award of marksâ€™, said the report.
â€œBased on the foregoing, it is our finding that although the recruitment process of the Managing Director of the Kenya Airports Authority appeared to be free and fair on the face of it, a careful analysis reveals that the process violated the Constitutional principle enshrined inÂ Article 232(1)(g)Â on fair competition and merit as the basis of appointment in the public service.
â€œThe Commission will not however annul the process unless there was clear evidence of conspiracy or collusion on the part Ms. Lucy Mbugua.Â In theÂ absence of this and considering that the recruitment process was long concluded, to do so would in itself occasion administrative injustice against Ms. Lucy Mbugua.
â€œIt is our further finding that the conduct of Mr. Joseph Irungu, now serving in the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National government as the Secretary of Administration and also as alternate Board Member of KAA amounts to improper conduct, abuse of power and a conduct prejudicial to other interviewees. This for an officer entrusted with a duty to act fairly and impartially is a breach of ArticleÂ 59 (2) (h) & (i) of the Constitution.
â€œHaving found so, we hereby reprimand Mr. Joseph Irungu for his conduct and recommend that Mr.Irungu be removed from serving as an alternate Board Member of the Kenya Airports Authority.Â We take cognizance of the fact that Mr. Joseph Irungu serves as a Secretary of Administration and therefore not only key in recruitments within the Ministry, but also the key driver of fair administrative justice practices. This, will be upon him to exercise greater objectivity, independence and fairness during similar process.
â€œIn light of the above, the Commission in exercise of its powers under Article 59(2)(j) of the Constitution and Sections 8(g) and 26(g)of the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, FINDS that the Ministry of Transport And Infrastructure:- (i)Â Should initiate measures to ensure that future interviews are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner (ii)Â Should initiate the process of removing and replacing Mr. Joseph Irungu from the Board of Directors of the Kenya Airports Authority (iii) Should ensure that future interviews for public offices are conducted impartially, objectively and fairly, and the results therefore stored for possible independent review. . .”
COFEK chickened out of the suit, however, it didn’t take long before Mbugua’s corrupt rise to the top of Kenya Airports Authority, the body that manages the country’s national and international airports, cost Kenya’s taxpapers a whooping Ksh 9 billion.
Apart from the Ksh 9 billion scandal, Mbugua has been accused Â of inserting favourable clauses in a contract won by Â a Â Swiss concessionaire company, Dufry International, Â to manage duty free shops at the Jomo Kenyatta and Moi International airports.
Interestingly, the shops, originally managed by Kamlesh Pattni, were the subject of a fire incident which gutted them down, giving the government a window to flatten the stores and pave way for a new tenant. Those in the know claim Dufry International is owned by the first family, just like several other entities running the airport’s cafeterias and in-light food and taxi industry.