Activist Okiya Omtatah has filed a case challenging the appointment of Prof. Olive Mugenda to be the Non-Executive Chairperson of the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital board and Kithinji Kiragu and Gladys Ogallo as members.
Prof Olive Mugenda, former Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta Univerity had been appointed as chairperson of the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital board for three consecutive years by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
During her tenure as Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Olive oversaw the construction of the hospital and was very instrumental in conceptualizing the idea of the hospital and spearheading the writing of the proposal which led to the financing of the hospital.
In a gazette notice, the President also named Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Kithinji Kiragu, and Gladys Ogallo to the panel as members of the hospital board to serve for the same period.
Omtatah argues that the appointments of the three were made without subjecting the three appointees to a “fair, open, competitive, merit-based, and inclusive recruitment process,” adding that this violates the law.
He further argues that the offices of Chairperson and of Member of the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital board are public offices, subject to the Public Service Commission (PSC), and must be filled through a fair, open, competitive, merit-based, and inclusive recruitment process.
“Under the law, the process for filling offices in the public service begins with the PSC advertising vacancies for the positions and inviting applications from qualified interested parties. The PSC then publishes the names of all applicants and later the shortlist.
“The PSC then conducts interviews and avails an opportunity for public participation before appointing persons to the offices or submitting the names of successful candidates to appointing authorities for appointment,”reads the court documents.
Omtatah further claims that Mugenda is still an employee of Kenyatta University, therefore, she cannot sit on the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital board where the Kenyatta University Council is represented, and the university’s Vice-Chancellor is a member.
According to Omtatah this creates conflict of interest.
“She is a pensioner as a former Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University but her appointment to the hospital’s Board (and, earlier, to the JSC) entitles her to multiple salaries contrary to Article 77(3) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” argues Omatah.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in a gazette notice dated April 1, 2019, appointed Prof. Mugenda to chair the board for a period of 3 years.