The electoral commission has send to Parliament grounds against which the appointment of its events manager, Tabitha Mutemi, as a board member of the Media Council of Kenya is invalid.
Ms Mutemi was appointed to the board by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru but it soon turned out that she was a full-time employee working at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in turn breaching the law that bars state officers from appointment into boards of state corporations.
In a March 24 letter addressed to the clerk of the National Assembly, IEBC said, “a member or employee of the commission shall not during the tenure of office be eligible for appointment to another public office.”
According to the IEBC Act, members or employees of the commission are barred from holding other public offices during their tenure of office.
The elections watchdog said that Ms Mutemi’s appointment was untenable since she is currently working as its manager corporate communication affairs.
“The commission will undertake action at an appropriate time in accordance with the IEBC Act 2011 and its human resource policies and procedures manual as was communicated to the chairman, MCK, on 1st March,” the electoral body’s letter addressed to the clerk of the National Assembly reads.
Ms Mutemi’s case has been the matter of argument between her current employer, the IEBC, and MCK, the ICT ministry as well as the office of the Attorney-General for almost a year now.
In August last year, the office of the Attorney-General advised against her holding two public offices, noting that it is contrary to section 16 of the IEBC Act 2011 as well as the State’s circular number OP/CA8.9/1A dated 18th October 2019.
Accordingly, the Attorney-General noted that Ms Mutemi should not be a board member of the MCK while still employed by the commission.
A month later, the ministry of ICT PS Esther Koimet wrote to Ms Mutemi informing her that she cannot carry out her duties in the two institutions at the same time.
“Kindly confirm by 30th September 2020, whether you prefer to continue to serve as a council member of MCK or as an employee of IEBC,” wrote Ms Koimett.
In January this year, in a letter copied to CS Mucheru and Ms Mutemi, MCK chief executive David Omwoyo wrote to the board chairman Maina Muiruiri saying that the media council does not recognize Ms Mutemi as a board member.
Ms Mutemi was in charge of the department of communications during the 2017 general elections.