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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 22 February 2015

Jostling for KMA top job starts in earnest

The Kenya Maritime Authority is seeking for a new director-general after the term of Nancy Karigithu who has been at the parastatal’s helm for nearly a decade came to an end last week.
KMA board has subsequently placed advertisements calling for eligible candidates to apply for the coveted position. The board said the ideal candidate must have a Masters degree in a maritime field or its equivalent, besides other requirements including adhering to the provisions of Chapter Six of the constitution on leadership and integrity.
The advertisement of the position comes hot on the heels of mounting tension in the Mombasa-based state corporation following claims that the outgoing director-general had attempted to bulldoze the board led by Mwalimu Digore to have her contract extended.
Following the claims, a local human rights organisation has threatened to stage demonstrations if Karigithu’s tenure is to be extended covertly. The outgoing DG has held the position for nine years against the requirement that such positions be held for a maximum of two terms of three years each, totaling six years as stipulated.
According to sources, Karigithu had allegedly written to the board a few weeks earlier requesting for an extension. It is not, however, clear what reasons she gave to back her request. The contents of the letter allegedly leaked out to a section of employees who in turn passed the information to a human rights’ organisation spilled the beans. However, as tension escalated, the DG reportedly withdrew her letter.
Coast political leaders including chairman of the Coast Parliamentary Group Gideon Mung’aro are reportedly lobbying to have a coastal and most preferably a Mijikenda, appointed to the powerful position. KMA is the regulator, coordinator and overseer of all maritime affairs as spelt out in the Kenya Maritime and Shipping Act.
However, as things stand now, there is no Mijikenda in a senior position in KMA who could be recommended on meritocracy to climb the ladder to the position. Even the one appointed to hold the forte in an acting capacity pending the recruitment of a new chief executive is not from Coast region. This therefore means that someone from outside the parastatal has to be head-hunted if the Coast politicians will have their way.
Digore is a Digo from Kwale. He was a parliamentary candidate for the Matuga seat on a URP ticket and lost to Hassan Mwanyoha of ODM. He is under pressure from Coast MPs and residents to ensure the next DG is a coastal.
It is suspected he is the one who leaked the Karigithu letter addressed to the board asking for an extension to a section of employees to supposedly help him fight the war. Instructively, the Karigithus are well connected as from the Kibaki administration to the current government under Jubilee.
It was not immediately clear if Mombasa governor Hassan Joho is pushing someone to occupy the top lucrative position at KMA. The governor has been waging war against the national government for failing to devolve KMA, Kenya Ferry and Kenya Ports Authority in line with the new constitution which stipulates that harbours and ports will be managed by the respective county governments.

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