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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 31 August 2014

CARTELS BLOCK NAMING OF CHIEF LANDS REGISTRAR



Powerful cartels with vested interests in the ministry of Lands are standing in the way of the Public Service Commission in appointing the Chief Lands Registrar from the names of three top candidates shortlisted for the substantive post of the office holder following interviews held on July 31 this year.


The selected candidates include the current acting Chief Land Registrar Jane Ndiba and Sarah Mwenda, all from the ministry proposed by cabinet secretary Charity Ngilu and a former commissioner with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, Grace Katasi.

Sources at PSC told Weekly Citizen that the interviews were conducted almost a month ago after an early advertisement for the same post and whose interviews were carried out on February 25 were shelved in an unclear circumstances as names of the applicants were not even published as prescribed by law.

When contacted on why PSC was taking too long to name the registrar, a secretary in the CEO Alice Otwala’s office said the boss was in a meeting in the boardroom. “The CEO is in a meeting in the boardroom. You do an email to the PSC and send it through psck@publicservice.go.ke. She will respond,” however, by the time of going to press, there was no response.

The PSC commissioners are said to be torn down the middle following immense pressure to advertise for the same position the third time even after the recent interviews that shortlisted the trio from whom the PSC is expected to pick one for the post.

It is understood that some influential quarters both in and outside the ministry are prevailing on the PSC to maintain the status quo but some commissioners are adamant that “a new broom” must be brought in to sweep the mess at the land’s registry. Ndiba and Mwenda are among the ministry’s candidates proposed by cabinet secretary Charity Ngilu to the post which  requires a substantive office holder.

“The commissioners want an overhaul at the registry and by getting a Chief Lands Officer from the same ministry to take charge of this substantive office will be like digging a hole to fill another,” a source quoting one commissioner told Weekly Citizen.


Ngilu has of late been on the receiving end after she was accused of usurping the role of PSC by purporting that she had the powers to appoint a Chief Lands Officer when the mandate constitutionally lies within the armpit of PSC.

Sources said due to the power struggle, a majority of the commissioners have stood their ground that an outsider was needed to take over the new position which is equivalent to the former commissioner of lands.  “The commissioners are of the view that in order to end the rampant corruption at the lands registry, a new broom was needed to clear the mess to save millions of Kenyans from the vice,” a source at PSC said.

According to Article 234 of the Constitution, the functions of the PSC include the establishment of offices in the public service and appoint persons to hold or act in those offices and confirm appointment. By not naming the Chief Lands Officer, PSC is violating the constitution and the land laws.

They say the supremacy war between the ministry and the National Land Commission is as a result of this vacuum since PSC has reneged in naming the officer from among the three shortlisted on July 31 and whose names appear on its website.

“Ngilu can only give policy guidelines and not do the work of her juniors. What she is doing is the work of the Chief Lands Officer whom the PSC has delayed in naming,” they noted.
According to Chapter 15 of the constitution, PSC risks being punished for violating the constitution by failing to name the Chief Land Officer, a month after the interviews and two years since the Land Registration Act was enacted in 2012.

Article 251 (2) states: “A person desiring the removal a member of a commission or of a holder of an independent office on any ground specified in clause (1) may present a petition to the National Assembly setting out the alleged facts constituting that ground”.

Clause (1) stipulates that a member of the commission (other than an ex-officio member), or the holder of an independent office, may be removed from office only for serious violation of the constitution or any other law, including contravention of Chapter Six on leadership and integrity.
Eyebrows are now being raised as to why it is taking too long for the PSC to announce the results. 

The position was first advertised on February 2 and the interviews carried out on June 26 this year by a select panel of PSC commissioners and attended by land principal secretary, Mariam El Maawy.

The CS had in January this year been embroiled in a controversy with PSC after a letter she addressed to the PSC chair, Margaret Kobia, in which the ministry sought to have an officer of the ministry appointed Chief Lands Officer.

Ngilu found herself on the wrong side of the law after the PSC accused her of usurping its constitutional role in purporting to appoint Ndiba as acting lands registrar. 
The proposals Ngilu had made to PSC were Peter Kahuho (acting secretary lands), Sarah Njuhi (acting chief lands registrar), Jane Wanjiru (acting senior assistant director land registration), and Gladys Mwikali (acting senior director-land registration, George Orwaru (acting chief lands, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, Thika and Mombasa. 

 Besides Ndiba and Mwenda, Katasi is the chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya’s Complaints Commission. She is a holder of Master of Laws and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of Nairobi and post graduate certificates in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Policy and Legislative Drafting, Forensic Accounting and Project Management contravention of the constitution.

There are rising questions why PSC has been slow in naming the officer after the interviews yet there were the first to come out breathing fire and brimstones accusing  of Ngilu of taking over their constitutional mandate by appointing Ndiba, raising constitutional questions.
 
The proposals Ngilu had made to PSC were Peter Kang’ethe Kahuho (acting secretary lands), Sarah Njuhi Mwenda (acting Chief Lands Registrar), Jane Wanjiru Ndiba (acting Senior Assistant Director land registration), and Gladys Mwikali (acting Senior Director-Land Registration, George Orwaru (acting Chief Lands, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, Thika and Mombasa. The matter ended up in court.

 Besides Ndiba and Mwenda, Katasi is the Chairperson of the Media Council of Kenya’s Complaints Commission. She is a holder of Master of Laws (LLM) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degrees from the University of Nairobi and Post graduate certificates in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Policy and Legislative Drafting, Forensic Accounting and Project Management.

She has 23 years legal practice in various capacities, including: Head of Legal Department at Agricultural Development Corporation, Resident Magistrate in Mombasa, Private practitioner in Mombasa, Senior Legal Counsel at Fida Kenya, and Senior Evidence Analyst at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. She is currently a partner in the law firm of Amadi, Katasi & Company Advocates.