Monica Juma used a non-existent law to hire power company executives

Economy

Monica Juma used a non-existent law to hire power company executives


Energy Secretary Dr Monica Juma during a press conference to address the fuel shortage crisis at Kawi House on April 14, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma is set to use a nonexistent law to hire six directors of the Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation.
  • Dr Juma has now been prosecuted for ignoring CoG nominees and using the now defunct Energy Act 2006, which gave the Cabinet Secretary the right to appoint eight of REREC’s 11 board members.
  • High Court Judge George Odunga has allowed barrister Martin Njoroge to bring an action to set aside board appointments and a statement that Dr Juma broke the law and is therefore unfit to hold public office.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma is set to use a non-existent law to hire six Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation (REREC) directors, excluding Council of Governors (CoG) nominees of the board of directors of the electricity company.

On April 14, Dr. Juma appointed the six trustees to serve at the state agency for three years based on the 2006 energy law, which ceased to have effect in March 2019.

The Energy Act 2019 allows the Cabinet Secretary to appoint three Directors and the CoG four. The nominations were made public through an April 14 Kenya Gazette notice.

In the same notice, Dr Juma cited the 2019 Energy Act appointing four administrators to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) – the energy regulator.

Dr Juma has now been prosecuted for ignoring CoG nominees and using the now defunct Energy Act 2006, which gave the Cabinet Secretary the right to appoint eight of REREC’s 11 board members.

High Court Judge George Odunga has allowed barrister Martin Njoroge to bring an action to set aside board appointments and a statement that Dr Juma broke the law and is therefore unfit to hold public office.

The judge ordered Mr. Njoroge to file the complaint by May 6.

“That leave be and is hereby granted to the plaintiff to seek judicial review by way of an order for declaration for notice of publication in the Official Gazette…the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Dr. Monica Juma, has violated Section 45(1) of the Energy Act 2019 and Sections 10 and 232 of the Constitution and is therefore unfit to hold public office,” Judge Odunga said.

Mr Njoroge said the Cabinet Secretary used a law repealed in 2019 to appoint Hassan Sora, Rhoda Njuguna, Isaac Mbeche, Samson Maundu, Henry Rono and Hassan Mohamud Haji as board members.

The move to lock in CoG nominees will strengthen Dr Juma’s hand in controlling the REREC board, which is now dominated by his appointees.

The CoG’s role on the REREC board is the product of amendments to the Energy Act 2019, which expanded the agency’s mandate to include working with county governments to deepen power connections, fundraising, research and development of Kenya’s renewable energy master plan. .

The state agency partners with county governments and constituencies under the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) to boost rural electrification.

Under the agreement, county governments and constituency development funds will contribute half of the cost of installing power grids in rural areas, with REREC contributing the rest.

This decision aims to strengthen the supply of electricity to rural homes and commercial centers, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas.

“By purporting to appoint the individual’s board members using a repealed law, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy has overturned the law, acted with impunity and granted himself powers that she did not has not, given its failure to take into account the role of the Council of County Governments in the appointment of council members,” says Mr Njoroge.

“I am aware that prior to undertaking the purported appointments contained in the Gazette Notices, the Respondent failed to meet minimum guarantees of transparency, fair competition, merit and integrity.”

The court battle comes weeks after Dr Juma lost a bid to overturn the previous board’s decision, whose term ended in February, to hire 230 workers to fulfill the broader county mandate.

Dr. Juma sought to prevent the hiring of the 230 workers on charges of nepotism and increasing the number of REREC employees without a budget and in violation of the law.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) ruled out wrongdoing, but the Department of Energy insisted on stopping the hiring, prompting legal action and State House intervention.

On November 8, Dr. Juma had asked the head of the civil service Joseph Kinyua to maintain the freeze on parastatals under his ministry.

But Mr. Kinyua ignored the petition through the February 7 memo, which lifted a five-year hiring freeze at parastatals.

REREC posted a surplus of 7.2 billion shillings in the year to June, according to Treasury estimates, and recently accelerated rural electrification projects, bringing Kenya closer to the ambitious target of universal access to electricity.

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Laura J. Boyer