By Silas Apollo
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was this month put on the spot over its decision to advertise the position of chief executive officer internally.
During a session of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the commission was questioned on the rationale behind advertising such a crucial position internally.
EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak appeared before the watchdog Committee chaired by Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo to respond to audit queries for the Financial Year 2020/21.
PAC was particularly concerned with the reasoning behind the decision to advertise a position that is key, such as that of the chief executive officer intellay.
Committee members also observed that advertising a position such as that of deputy CEO internally was unlawful and denied other competent Kenyans a chance to apply and compete for the job.
Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera voiced suspicions that the internal advertisement was a scheme to favor an officer who had already been in an acting position.
“This Committee reads a sinister motive in the decision by the Commission not to advertise the position externally. They should have given an opportunity to other Kenyans to apply for the job,” Nabwera said.
During the meeting, the Committee was informed that a Kenyan citizen had taken the Commission to court to challenge its decision not to externally advertise the position, stalling the recruitment process.
According to the auditor’s report, the Commission had placed an internal advertisement for the vacancies, which closed on 7th July 2020.
A petition was filed at the Employment and Labour Court, Nairobi, in August 2020, leading to the halt of the recruitment process.
In his response, Mr. Mbarak defended the Commission, stating that they were acting in accordance with the law in advertising the position internally.
“The Commission policy provides for officers to be appointed
in an acting capacity for up to six months and not exceeding 12 months. However, in special circumstances, as approved by the Commission, the acting period may be extended beyond 12 months,” said Mr. Mbarak.
He further confirmed that the positions of Deputy CEO and Deputy Director of Supply Chain Management were advertised internally, but the recruitment process was hindered by the petition.
“The Commission later advertised the positions after the case was dismissed, and they are currently substantively filled,” he explained.
Earlier, the commission had also been grilled over its decision to pay Sh1.5 billion for the acquisition of the Integrity Centre Building in Nairobi, following concerns from the office of the Auditor-General that the transaction was done outside the law.
PAC had raised concerns over the manner in which the commission made the payments, with members of the committee grilling the Commission on its conduct and financial position.
During a session chaired by Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo, Mbarak was questioned at length over the payment of Sh1,518,00,000 for the building, despite the seller’s failure to provide crucial documents.
“The Auditor-General noted that the Commission paid Sh1,518,000,000 to the National Lands Commission for compulsory acquisition of the Integrity Centre. However, a letter from the State Department for Public Works valid ownership documents were not availed,” read part of the report.
But the commission defended the decision as above board, with Mr Mbarak asserting that no money was lost in the acquisition of the building adding that all the necessary documents were eventually received by the Commission on April 26, 2022, and forwarded to the Public Works department for authentication.
“The Department confirmed that the building was adequately designed and supervised by competent structural engineers who advised the Commission to settle the outstanding balance which it did,” Mbarak said.