The Kenya Revenue Authority has defended the context of its recent changes at the port of Mombasa, saying the reshuffles were not due to integrity issues.
KRA Commissioner General John Njiriani said Tuesday’s staff changes affecting the investigations and enforcement department and the human resources division were in line with the taxman’s reform plans.
“The changes undertaken do not in any way relate to integrity questions touching on the character of the two individuals. In both cases, the changes were necessitated by the board’s wish to change course in order to meet the broader objectives of Government,” Mr Njiraini said.
The changes, made jointly with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, targeted critical dockets within the KRA as well as those involved in the import supply chain at the port.
The KRA removed the head of the investigations and enforcement department, Mr Jonah Cheruiyoit, and replaced him with the former deputy commissioner in customs and border control, Mr David Yego. Mr Cheruyoit is yet to be reassigned.
Mr Njiraini now says the move was necessitated by the need to assign someone with "professional investigative capacity" who can create greater impact through detection and deterrence.
Staff dissatisfaction with the human resources operations at the KRA is said to have been behind the shakeup in the human resource section.
“Results from surveys recently undertaken show that staff discontent with HR practices and performance is still unacceptably high. The implication is that reform objectives commenced in 2015 may not be delivering the desired impact,” Mr Njiraini said in a statement.
The changes had aimed to "inject greater transparency and professionalism in staff recruitment and promotions", according to the tax collector.
The KRA, however, admitted that the new HR framework was expected to address staff disciplinary matters, with a view to helping deter malpractices.
The KRA board approved the commencement of a search for new leadership for the HR division as discussions with the current head, Ms Rachel Monyoncho, progress on transition arrangements.
Mr Njiraini also explained why the changes were publicly unveiled contrary to the norm associated with internal changes.
“Unlike past practice where staff deployments are not publicly announced, the prevailing circumstances demanded otherwise, since the changes were being discussed as part of Government efforts to reform Mombasa Port operations,” the commissioner-general said.
Tuesday’s purge at the port saw Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Gichiri Ndua, top officials and police officers sacked over corruption allegations.
Mombasa Port OCPD and the county criminal investigations officer were also sacked in the changes announced jointly by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, his Transport counterpart James Macharia, Mr Njiraini and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
They said the move was aimed at ridding the port of corruption. The radical measures were taken on the recommendations of an inter-agency committee formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look at issues affecting the port.