Succession blues grip House as three top employees retire
Posted Friday, August 10 2012 at 23:30
- The Clerk, deputy and head of training set to leave months before elections amid fears that transition was not well planned
For the first time in history all the top executive positions in Parliament will be filled in an election year.
This follows the scheduled retirement of the three most senior employees of Parliament, plus the Speaker whose term expires on January 15, 2013.
Clerk Patrick Gichohi, his deputy Peter C. Omollo and parliamentary studies and training director Murumba Werunga are leaving after cumulatively serving the House for more than nine decades together.
In fact, Mr Gichohi and Mr Omollo were employed two days apart in October 1977.
The last transition was in 2008 when Mr Gichohi took over from Mr Samuel Ndindiri who died in office. Mr Gichohi had been seconded to the Constituency Development Fund as the founding chief executive.
He is one of the longest serving employees of the august House, having joined after university.
Mr Omollo has been senior deputy clerk since 2008, while Mr Werunga joined the House on November 1, 1976.
The slots are among the 17 advertised by the Parliamentary Service Commission, the administrative wing of the House.
The commission will also appoint directors for legislative services, committees and the Speaker’s office.
It has set up a joint services unit, which will deal with issues cross-cutting between the Senate and the National Assembly.
This team will be headed by a director-general. The transition is even more comprehensive as Speaker Kenneth Marende may not be in office when the new bicameral Parliament is sworn in — unless he is re-elected.
The new Clerk and other top officers must be picked in the next two months to allow for a smooth transition. This is because MPs must vet the shortlisted candidates before they take office.
The Clerk, as per the Standing Orders, will swear in MPs, and then allow them to elect the Speaker. But there is a chance that the House may break before picking the new executive team, leaving the task to the next Parliament.
This raises the spectre of MPs-elect vetting candidates for Clerk as their first task or the tenure of Mr Gichohi’s team being extended.
Then there is the question of institutional memory. Mr Gichohi has worked for 33 years, but his successor will not necessarily come from the system.
With the departure of the two other veterans, and the fact the PSC will have to be constituted afresh, there are fears the succession as not well managed.
MPs who could not be named for fear of prejudicing the ongoing recruitment said the contracts of the three officers may be extended to ensure a smooth handing over.
“A new Clerk, fresh MPs, new senators and a bicameral Parliament at the same time? Who will guide the other? This is improbable,” said an MP who asked not be named.