The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) otherwise known as Ombudsman has recommended the replacement of Mr Joseph Irungu (a director of administration at the Office of the President) as a director with the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for open bias that saw the fourth placed candidate, Ms Lucy Mbugua (pictured) named as the Managing Director.
In a 9-page letter addressed to KAA Chairman Prof. Mutuma Mugambi and copied to Transport Secretary Eng Michael Kamau, Transport PS Mr Nduva Muli and Cofek Secretary General Mr Stephen MutoroÂ CAJ Chairman Mr Otiende Amolo agreed with most of Cofek complaints about the process and Mr Irungu in particular.
“The 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 Joseph’s Irungu’s computation was to be removed, Ms Lucy Mbugua will move from 1st to 4th position, a clear indication of bias arising from Mr Irungu’s award of marks’, said the report.
“Based 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.
“The 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.
“It 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.
“Having 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.
“In 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
From the findings, Cofek may proceed to Court to challenge the process. In the interim, we will be writing to the Public Service Commission to take immediate disciplinary action against Mr Irungu.
Further, it is our view that the Government Owned Entities Bill must now remove the responsibility of shortlisting and interviewing candidates by the parastatal boards. Instead, the PSC and or independent agencies only need to provide the board with the best top three candidates for respective boards to pick their CEOs.