A Cabinet minister and two MPs have petitioned President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to revoke the appointment of Kenya Ports Authority directors over allegations of ethnic imbalance.
Fisheries Development minister Amason Kingi, Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu and nominated MP Sheikh Mohamed Dor said Transport minister Amos Kimunya had filled the KPA board with members from one tribe.
“The disproportionate representation of all Kenyans on the KPA board goes against the spirit of the Constitution that seeks to purge tribalism from all public institutions. The appointments made by the minister do not reflect the true face of Kenya under the new dispensation that vouches for equal representation of all ethnic communities,” said Sheikh Dor at Mbaruku Mosque, Mombasa on Monday.
Mr Kingi, who is also Magarini MP, said he was disappointed by Mr Kimunya’s move, and called for a new board to be constituted afresh.
“This port has so much attachment to the people of the region and it will be foolhardy for its leaders to keep quiet over such skewed board. We, as the leaders of this region, are at pains to explain why there is such dominance of resources within our jurisdiction,” Mr Kingi said at a press conference in Mombasa on Sunday flanked by Mr Mwadeghu.
The protest followed the decision by Mr Kimunya on April 20 to appoint Mr Bernard Gaithuma, Ms Eunice Njeru and Mr Abdallah Fadhil to the board to replace Mr Mohamed Jahazi, Mr George Waireri and Mr Komora Jillo.
Leaders from the province argued the list was dominated with people from Central Kenya at the expense of professionals from Coast Province.
Sheikh Dor said at least 75 percent representation on the KPA board of directors should be reserved for people from the province.
But Transport assistant minister Ali Hassan Joho defended the appointments, saying the new directors were fit to run the parastatal professionally.
“The appointments by the minister focused mainly on merit and gender parity,” he said during a tour of KPA headquarters.
Sheikh Dor warned that the minister was playing into the hands of the proscribed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) — which claims people from upcountry were exploiting Coast resources at the expense of locals — with such biased appointments.
Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said the MRC could only be defeated by giving people from the province equal opportunities with other Kenyans.
“The government must show through its appointments of individuals to public positions that it is fighting the culture of favouritism and nepotism,” Sheikh Khalifa said.
Mr Joho appealed to the leaders to give the directors a chance, saying the dispute could be resolved amicably.
“The minister’s appointments have drawn mixed reactions which could be out of ignorance or lack of information. So the only way out is dialogue to reach consensus,” he said.
Transport PS Cyrus Njiru declined to comment, saying Mr Joho had given the ministry’s position.