By the Speaker.
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE ALLEGATIONS BY THE GOVERNOR OF KITUI COUNTY CONCERNING THE COUNTY PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD NOMINEES
The names of the nominees to the position of Chairperson and members of the Kitui County Public Service Board were received by the County Assembly on 14th February, 2020. Consequently, on 26th February, these names were committed to the County Assembly Appointments Committee.
In accordance with the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Act, 2017, the public were notified of the time, venue and dates of the public hearing which was held on 9th March, 2020.
On the 9th of March, the Office of the Clerk wrote to the County Secretary requesting further information that would assist the Appointments Committee in undertaking the vetting. The Office of the County Secretary responded by indicated that the information we sought was domiciled in the Office of the Governor and was however inaccessible as the Governor was not in the office then.
We did a reminder on 11th March of our letter and also requested for further information. This time, some material was provided but was devoid of what we had earlier requested on 9th March, 2020.
In seeking for this information we were undertaking a legal process. Section 8 of the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Act, 2017 states that the issues that MUST be considered by the County Assembly include the procedure used to arrive at the nominee including the criteria for shortlisting the nominees. To date, we are yet to receive this information.
On 10th March, 2020, the County Assembly adjourned its sittings to allow Sectoral Committees consider the County Fiscal Strategy Paper for FY 2020/2021. When the Assembly resumed sittings on Tuesday, 17th March, 2020, the Appointments Committee held its second sitting. However, due to the Presidential Directive that people should avoid meeting in large numbers to help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, on that Tuesday the Assembly was again adjourned until Wednesday, 25th March, 2020 and further adjourned on that Wednesday sine die.
On 9th April, 2020, we were served with court pleadings where the Governor of Kitui County had sued the County Assembly in relation to hiring of the Chairperson and the Members of the County Public Service Board. The interim application was heard by the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi on 14th April, 2020 and orders and application sought by the Governor were therein declined. We await the outcome of the case filed.
Therefore, there has not been any unreasonable delay in the vetting process by the County Assembly as alleged. In fact, the Assembly has made a lot of effort to have the process concluded despite not receiving very crucial information from the appointing authority as well as working under very stressful times because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Appointments Committee is yet to conclude its sittings and this means that there is no report to table to the County Assembly yet.
Again, the Speaker of the Assembly is not sitting on any report as purported. How would the Speaker sit on any report that is yet to be tabled for debate? The procedure is that once the Committee concludes its sittings and comes up with a report, it should be tabled and allocated time for debate in the House. We are yet to reach this point. Immediately, the report is finalized it shall be dispensed of by the Assembly procedurally.
Further, the term of previous County Public Service Board expired in July, 2019. During the period between July 2019 and February 2020 when we received the names of the nominees, Kitui County had no Public Service Board in place for a record 7 months. The question we should be asking ourselves is, “if there was no Board in place for all that time, why was recruitment in Kitui County still ongoing?”
In addition, the Public Service Commission in Nairobi targets to hire health personnel to cover areas where over 10 County Public Service Boards throughout the nation are non-functional.
The personnel will be hired and posted to these counties for later absorption by the Boards when they are put in place. We should in this case appreciate the efforts of the Commission to ensure that Kitui is not left out in the hiring of these health personnel who are critically in need during this pandemic.
The County Assembly’s role in the appointment of the County Public Service Board is to vet and approve for appointment or reject any nominees as guided by the Section 58 of the County Governments Act and Section 4 of the Public Appointments (County Assemblies) Act, 2017.
The Assembly is a competent and capable institution and we are committed to undertake our mandate in line with the law and for the benefit of the people of Kitui. As an independent institution, we understand our role in the process as well as the urgency of the matter and all necessary arrangements amid the pandemic are being made to have the vetting process concluded.
HON GEORGE M. NDOTTO, E.G.H.
SPEAKER, COUNTY ASSEMBLY OF KITUI
30TH APRIL, 2020