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DP Gachagua cited in dark plot to block return of KBC CEO – Weekly Citizen

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With the new ICT cabinet secretary Eliud Owalo stating that his ministry will adopt an open door policy, there are reports emerging of corruption at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation board.

Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua has been sucked into the alleged scheme by a section of the KBC board and acting MD to defy a court order for the reinstatement of former CEO Naim Bilal.

Panic has gripped a section of board members and some managers who fear being fired or relegated, surcharged or prosecuted for taking advantage of the acting MD to fleece the corporation and perpetrate other malpractices such as unauthorised board meetings, local and international travel by board members and irregular employment of staff, who include relatives and friends of the board members.

This, sources say, has happened in the short period of Naim’s absence.

Tension is running high as some board members led by the chairman Benjamin Maingi and the acting MD Samuel Maina hatched a plot to seek the DP’s intervention to have Maina confirmed to the position despite the court order.

Maingi and Maina are banking on DP Gachagua’s support to defeat the court order and have Maina installed as MD based on the fact that Maina’s appointment as acting MD was ordered by former ICT CS Joe Mucheru in March.

Mucheru

Mucheru, like Gachagua and Maingi, hail from Nyeri while Maina, a well-known Azimio pointman who used to widely share his photos taken with Uhuru Kenyatta, terming him his “drinking buddy”, comes from the neighbouring Murang’a county.

Mucheru withdrew a Gazette Notice for Naim’s reappointment in March this year, hours before publication in mysterious circumstances.

He later claimed Naim was allied to William Ruto, who was at the time, a rival of the governmentbacked Azimio coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

What a gullible Mucheru did not know was that he had swallowed a cheap lie by Maina and his political friends, as Naim had issued several memos directing TV and radio staff to give fair and equitable coverage to all political actors in the runup to the August 9 general elections.

Naim had even written to all main political parties to interact with KBC and demand fair coverage.

The Mucheru saga played out in court leading to Naim’s immediate reinstatement by Justice Kebira Ocharo of the Employment and Labour Relations Court who found Mucheru to have acted “whimsically and capriciously” by withdrawing a Gazette Notice for the former MD’s reappointment for another term of three years.

In a 50-page judgment, Mucheru was found to have violated Naim’s constitutional and employment rights.

The court papers show that the board of KBC had in 2021 recommended the renewal of Naim’s contract after his outstanding performance, including attaining an average score of over 88pc in a two-year’s performance evaluation that was supervised by the State Corporations Advisory Committee.

Lawyers are preparing to go back to court to cite the appointing authority for contempt and abuse of office.

The lawyers are driven by a previous experience in July when the same court issued interim orders directing KBC not to remove Naim from the payroll until the matter was determined.

KBC defied the orders and has never paid him despite the court order.

A section of the board and the acting MD reached out to the DP after their first attempt to have Owalo to endorse Maina for the position failed.

Owalo

Staff and managers said Maina and Maingi had prior to a familiarisation visit by Owalo to KBC on October 31, briefed and choreographed a few loyalists, most of them beneficiaries of recent irregular recruitment and promotions, to address the CS and heap praise on the board and the acting MD. Indeed, drama played out live on KBC TV briefly during the visit before someone cut off the live feed as the small group of staff led by Festus Amimo attempted to pressure the CS to appoint Maina.

The CS refused to discuss the matter.

The board members, all of them Azimio appointees who were openly and actively involved in Azimio campaigns, know it is just a matter of time before they are replaced.

“They are in a hurry to milk the corporation as much as time allows and a keen to leave Maina in place to cover their tracks,” a senior manager told this writer.

Some board members who were driven by self-interest were unhappy with Naim who “stuck to the rule book” and would not bend to accommodate illegal or irregular dealings.

Details obtained from staff and managers worried by the events of the last six months of Naim’s absence from the corporation reveal serious irregularities touching on financial mismanagement, procurement and employment irregularities, with claims that most board members have taken over management of KBC, as Maina, keen to win the support of staff and the board for his appointment, has been granting each request for employment, travel, allowances and tenders.

The shocking fact is that salaries at KBC were consuming over 70pc of its entire budget, translating into over Sh80 million per month.

With the new development, the monthly wage bill jumped to Sh85 million per month, and that is not all.

KBC must also shoulder the burden of medical insurance cover which is expected to hit over Sh100 million, pay massive gratuity to the new staff which will mature at the same time in three years, besides car loans and pension for the new staff.

“To tell you the truth, the acting MD and the board have employed staff who are relatives and friends of board members. Nearly each board member has benefitted with three to five slots,” a manager said. Staff find it strange that Maingi a retired civil servant has been part of this maladministration.

Maingi joined the board in 2019 and became acting chairman in 2021 after the resignation of David Were who left to rejoin politics.

Maingi is said to have styled himself as a trusted ally of then State House officials, and was often heard to invoke the name of then Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua to attend, with other board members, international sports events such as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games that were totally unrelated to their work.

Kinyua

Those who have travelled internationally in the recent past include the chairman himself who travelled to the US.

He was to be accompanied by the chairman of the HR committee of the board, politician Hassan Osman, but whose mission flopped after he was denied a visa.

Osman, an Azimio man, is described as one of the most predatory board members who has made life unbearable with unceasing demands to management.

The other board members who have travelled internationally are the ministry of ICT are alternate member Judy Munyinyi and Alex Matere, an independent board member.

The duo travelled to London to attend an international sports event on KBC’s funds.

Matere, another Azimio sympathiser, also recently travelled to South Africa among the corporation’s staff on yet another joyride.

One of the board members who joined the corporation after impressing his Azimio principals with his youth agenda is said to regularly complain in bars in Kilimani area that CEOs of other state corporations facilitate his board friends with anything up to Sh2 million every week for political activities.



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