The intrigues regarding the head of Kenya’s telecoms industry regulator, Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) continued today with the Commission’s board, through its chair Eng Philip Okundi, appointing as acting director general (DG) Mr Francis Wangusi.
The announcement follows an order issued by the High Court on Wednesday August 10 instructing Charles Njoroge to cease acting as the DG until a case challenging his re-appointment is heard and determined.
In the ruling, High Court Judge Justice David Maraga said that the decision was necessary pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed earlier in the week by the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) against the decision to reappoint Njoroge as CCK boss by Kenya’s Information and Communications minister Samuel Poghisio.
In the lawsuit Cofek, through its chair Stephen Mutoro, wants the minister, Attorney General Amos Wako and the CCK board to explain why the reappointment was not conducted transparently as outlined in the new Constitution, which demands for the advertising of the vacant position to allow other qualified person to take part in competitive process.
But reacting to the new development, the minister said he was within the law to make such appointment saying that the court did not issue the order based on his appointment but due to other issues.
“In his wisdom, the Judge felt it was in order to grant such orders. We will argue our case when it comes to hearing. But that does not stop the CCK from operating,” said Poghisio, adding that the CCK board would sit within 24 hours to deliberate on the new development and come up with the way forward, which statement seems tom have informed Mr Wangusi’s appointment as acting DG.
Mr. Wangusi was until his appointment the CCK’s Director in charge of Special Projects and Broadcasting. He has over 27 years of experience in the communications industry and has held other positions at the Commission including Director, Licensing Compliance and Standards, and head of the Secretariat for the Digital Transition Committee.
Earlier, he worked as a Senior Lecturer, at the Kenya College of Communications Technology (KCCT), now Multimedia University College of Kenya and holds a Masters degree in Space Sciences with specialization in Satellite Communications from the International Space University, France; a BSc in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Rome, Italy and a Charted Engineer Part II Certificate from the Institute of Electronics Engineering, UK.
“We are going to appoint a new managing director in an acting capacity to run the affairs of the commission until the case is over and determined,” he added.
The suit said the two – the minister and AG – went against the law when they reappointed Njoroge before advertising the position to allow for fair competition, adding that the minister overstepped his mandate by reappointing Mr Njoroge for a second term contrary to the board of directors and in breach of the Constitution.
Maraga further ordered the CCK board to appoint an acting CEO to the CCK to take charge in the meantime as the matter is decided. He further ordered that should the CCK Board choose to replace Mr. Njoroge, then the said replacement would be in an acting capacity until the matter is concluded.
The row over Njoroge’s re-appointment spilled to Parliament last month with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy, Communications and Information Committee grilling the Commission’s board over the manner in which the process was conducted.
Mr Njoroge’s term was renewed for a further three years in April by Information and Communications Minister Samuel Poghisio after he had been asked to step aside by the CCK board following an altercation with CCK board chair Eng Philip Okundi.
Regulations demand that 6 months to the end of a DG’s 3-year term, the sitting DG writes to the CCK board to express his/her interest in having the contract renewed. An earlier review of Njoroge’s performance by the CCK board indicated that his performance was below par.
The rating was however, questionable given Njoroge’s performance at the helm of CCK in the last three years. He is credited with spearheading the reduction of calling rates which had hitherto been unaffordable to most Kenyans.
He is also credited with the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector while strengthening regulations, and the recent introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) whose adoption however remains low among the country’s over 20 million subcribers .