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Furore over 'dubious' age rule in Kephis top job selection

Some candidates want Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to order a repeat of the process

In Summary

• Candidates who spoke to the Star in confidence accused board chairman Robin Achoki of discrimination when there is no law to back his alleged decision. Achoki denies wrongdoing

• In a document seen by the Star, out of 13 candidates who were interviewed and considered for appointment, four were locked out for being 56 and above.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

Claims of bias have rocked the recruitment of a managing director at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services after candidates aged above 56 years were allegedly locked out.  

Candidates who spoke to the Star in confidence accused board chairman Robin Achoki of discrimination when there is no law to back his alleged decision. Achoki denies wrongdoing. 

“As long as you are within the years where you can serve for a three-year full term, that is allowed. But we do not know why we were discriminated [against],” a candidate told the Star. 

They want Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to order a repeat of the recruitment process, saying that is the only way they can get justice.

“Our hope is now with the CS. We want him to come to our rescue and ensure that we get justice. We are Kenyans and we deserve to be treated as such,” the candidate said.

In a document seen by the Star, out of 13 candidates who were interviewed and considered for appointment, four were locked out for being 56 and above.

In the first interview, Evans Atuti came first with 95.5 per cent, followed by Edward Mamati (94.75), Josephat Nyongesa (93.75), Nambunya Irene (93.5), Theophilus Mwendwa (93), Caleb Olweny (91.5), Hassan Tongola (85.75), Ezekiel Kiptoo (80.5) and Geoffrey Mwacha (78.25) respectively.

As the board prepared to proceed for the second round of interviews, Munya axed some members to remove excess seats.

The new board then interviewed shortlisted candidates. Mwenda is said to have been ranked first, followed by Atuti and Nambunya respectively.

On September 1, Munya wrote to the board to hasten the hiring, noting that there was no justification for the delays.

“Having granted the board my approval to undertake the exercise in April, I wish to note that this exercise has taken an extraordinarily long time to finalise and I wish to direct that the board now concludes this process not later than September 1,” Munya said in a letter to the chairman.

Meanwhile, staff have accused Achoki of micromanaging and interfering with the day-to-day activities of the management. They say arbitrary transfers have caused disharmony among the staff.

Acting managing director Simeon Kibet declined to comment on the allegations levelled against the chairman. “I have no comment,” he told the Star on the phone.

Achoki dismissed the claims, saying the recruitment of the new CEO was transparent. He said if there were vested interests, his tribesman would have been forwarded for appointment.

He also denied claims that he interferes with the management of the organisation as the role of the board limited to policy.

“The individuals making such claims are out of order. The exercise was transparent and was done during the daytime. Sixty-four candidates applied and nine qualified to be shortlisted,” he said.

“Day-to-day running of Kephis is not part of our function; so to say I give instruction for some people to be transferred or dismissed is not true,” he added.

 

(edited by o. owino)