Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia has defended former Othaya MP Mary Wambui’s appointment to the National Employment Authority (NEA) board.
Speaking when she appeared on K24 TV’s Punchline on Sunday, Prof Kobia said the attacks on Ms Wambui were unwarranted and motivated by gender bias.
“I did not take it very kindly that Mary Wambui was being dragged into that kind of a conversation that she was not qualified. One, I saw gender issues there. If it was a man, nobody would have talked.
In a board you do not make decisions alone, it is a total sum of the skills mix on the table. We did not give Mary a chance to lead this board. Leading at the board is strategic and about policy. Since it has now been surrounded by negativity she may reconsider. My ministry was offended by her being picked on, there are many men who have been given that job, older than her, and nobody said anything,” said CS Kobia.
The Public Service boss also dismissed claims that President Uhuru Kenyatta has been overlooking the youth when making senior government appointments.
“If you appoint a 25-year-old to chair a board, they will feel inadequate because they lack experience. And this is not a full time job, it pays so little. They only sit quarterly; it is not about the old versus the young. It is about the skills you bring to the table at the time,” said Prof Kobia.
Last week, the Employment Court ordered the suspension of Ms Wambui’s appointment to the NEA.
Justice Hellen Wasilwa directed that Ms Wambui should not assume office until a petition challenging her appointment is heard and determined.
Her appointment was contested by the Kenya Young Parliamentarians, who claimed that the Othaya MP is not qualified to lead NEA as its chairperson.
But the Public Service CS said their dispute is tainted by gender bias and they will take up the matter on behalf of Ms Wambui, even though the negative publicity may push the Othaya MP to reconsider the appointment.
The petitioner claimed that the former Othaya MP does not meet the requirements set by Section 10(2) of the National Employment Authority Act, which requires at least seven years of experience in human resource management.
The Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association is headed by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.
Ms Wambui was appointed as the NEA chairperson on October 14, by the Labour CS Ukur Yattani.
But Ms Wambui defended her appointment last week, saying that she got the job because “she is better than those complaining.”