Embattled Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) director-general Francis Wangusi will remain in office until a proper CA board is constituted to pick his successor, the High Court ruled on Friday, November 15.
In his ruling, Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court nullified a July 18, 2019 appointment of 13 members to the CA board.
The judge also quashed the August 22, 2019 appointment of Mercy Wanjau as Wangusi’s successor.
Wangusi has been directed to remain in office until a proper board at CA is constituted, and his replacement picked.
Ongaya directed President Uhuru Kenyatta to exercise his powers under the State Corporations Act to extend Wangusi’s term until a new board is appointed to recruit CA’s new director-general.
“CA had no board to appoint the regulator’s director-general, and, as you all know, only the board has the powers to appoint the DG. The ICT minister doesn’t have the powers to hand-pick a suitable person for the position of the director-general. Due procedure must be followed,” said the judge.
Ongaya ordered the respondents to pay 50 per cent of the suit-costs.
Wangusi’s contract ended on August 21, 2019, but he refused to leave office, saying Wanjau was irregularly picked as his replacement.
On August 22, 2019, Wangusi vowed not hand over to the new official who was appointed in an acting capacity.
He said the current board was not lawfully constituted and could not purport to appoint his replacement.
On August 22, a day after Wangusi’s said-ouster, K24 Digital established that the embattled director-general, who was absent during the announcement, had no plans to hand over to the new appointee and intended to continue discharging his duties until a legally constituted board names his successor.
The board, on August 21, announced the appointment of Mercy Wanjau, CA’s Director of Legal Services, as the acting director-general and DG of the communications regulator.
It made the appointment despite a court directive issued earlier August 2019 allowing Wangusi to stay in office past his contract, pending the determination of a case filed by Henry Kurauka on behalf of Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek).
In the court documents, Cofek claimed CA illegally conducted the recruitment of director-general without a legitimate board contrary to the law.
The tenure of the current 13-member CA board expired on April 29, 2019, hence, Cofek terming it illegal.
In May 2019, the court blocked ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru from appointing new members to the board, following a successful petition filed by activist Okiya Omtatah.
Announcing the change at the authority’s Nairobi Offices, CA Chairman Ngene Gituku, said Wanjau’s appointment followed extensive consultations.
“The appointment, that takes effect immediately, has been made following extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders to ensure that CA continues discharging its regulatory mandate seamlessly,” Gituku said.
“Given the strategic responsibilities vested in the authority we are committed to ensuring that there is no leadership vacuum and that we deliver on our vision of a digitally transformed nation,” he added.
Despite the frosty relations between Wangusi and the CA board, Gituku described him as a transformative leader who had achieved a lot in the over 15 years he had served CA in various positions.