In a developing story, Simon Gicharu, newly appointed chair of Geothermal Development Company, a state owned parastatal, has been removed in a boardroom coup. A confidential source has informed Kenya Today the ouster ended a few seconds ago. Gicharu is currently in simu ya jamii booth frantically making calls to State House.
In March, Star Newspaper exclusively reported how Gicharu, also the founder of Mt. Kenya University demanded the removal of GDC CEO Silas Simiyu accusing him of corruption barely three months after he was appointed to head the Company.
Barely three months after he was appointed, the new chairman of the Geothermal Development Company Simon Gicharu has demanded the removal of CEO Silas Simiyu over a raft of allegations.
In a confidential report sent to the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Gicharu accuses Simiyu of mismanagement, nepotism and dishonesty. He wants GDC audited while Simiyu is out.
â€œThese audits cannot succeed if done when the current CEO is in office as they will be either compromised or sabotaged and therefore they need to have a board that will undertake management changes will be important,â€ Gicharuâ€™s Report to Kinyua dated 5th March states in part.
But two board members Kariuki Muchemi and Sally Towett have disowned Gicharu’s actions and asked the chairman to first present his claims before the board for deliberation and action.
“Shouldn’t he have presented his views to the board first because I’m totally surprised. We have not had a full board meeting since he took over and the one we were to have last week was cancelled without explanation,” Towett told the Star.
Gicharu who was appointed in December by President Uhuru claims the institution is under producing Megawatts, its poorly managed and contracts have been entered into without the approval of the board and the Attorney General as required by the law. He now wants Simiyu suspended to pave way for auditors.
â€œAs you know the chairman is relatively new and I am not aware of any letter raising questions of mismanagement. If there is such a letter, I havenâ€™t seen it and thus canâ€™t be able to respond to the issues there,â€ the CEO said.
Simiyu further said that GDC is a public entity that follows procurement rules and is always open to scrutiny by other institutions such as PPOA, EMU and EAC.
“I wish he had the full picture of what we have done i’m sure he would not make those allegations. I will however have my say when a full board meeting is called,” said Simiyu.
It is understood that all donor money extended to GDC has been borrowed and received by the National Treasury on behalf of GDC since the parastatal is owned wholly by the government.
“We have nothing to hide. Anyone interested can look at the documents showing what we have received and how it has been used. No relevant agency including the the Auditor General has raised questions with us,” said Simiyu.
Another Board member responsible for GDC’s Fiance committee Engineer Kariuki Muchemi was surprised that the chairman has authored a report and sent it to Kinyua.
“I’m not aware of any report of that nature. Secondly we have not had a full board meeting with the new chairman. I have only met him once when he was presented to the Board and management,” said Muchemi.
In his report Gicharu claims that GDC has never produced 70 Megawatts of power as presented to him when he assumed office.
“The figure of the 70 MW is largely the same figure that the GDC has traditionally told the government and the public at large and this is untrue. GDC has produced 21 MW so far despite receiving Ksh 55,000,000 from the government and donors,” said Gicharu.
He said he was disturbed by the state of production considering the institution has received billions of shillings from donors who may sue it and the government.
Gicharu also claims that current board has not been involved in policy management because the CEO is the only one who plans and executes them.
However in an interesting turn of events the Star learnt yesterday that Gicharu who was only appointed in December is yet to chair anybody meeting to acquaint himself with the operations at GDC, raising queries over the intent his letter.
Instead of writing to Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir or PS Joseph Njoroge, the GDC chairman wrote to head of civil service Joseph Kinyua, requesting him to suspend Simiyu and pave way for an independent audit over corruption allegations.
Sources said the decision to petition the head of civil services was mooted at a meeting held in a hotel in Kilimani area, Nairobi that was attended by a senator from Rift Valley and a former MP from then same region with the GDC chairman.
The trio are said to have expressed their frustration that Chirchir was reluctant to sack the GDC managing director and thus opted to write to the civil service boss.
â€œIt appears the chairman came into office with a brief that Simiyu has to go and thatâ€™s what we are witnessing currently,â€ a senior ministry of energy official said.
CS Chirchir said he had not received any communication from the GDC chairman and thus could not be in a position to comment.
He further refused to comment on claims that he had met Gicharu where claims of impropriety in GDC management were discussed. Sources told the Star that Chirchir had advised Gicharu to convene full board meeting and demand responses to any claims before petitioning the ministry.
In his letter, Gicharu has asked Kinyua to suspend all contract currently being undertaken by the organization and freeze any loan agreement between GDC and donors until the independent audit is done.