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CA taps insider to succeed Wangusi

Thursday August 22 2019

Newly named Communications Authority of Kenya

Newly named Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) acting Director- General Mercy Wanjau, ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng and CA chairman Ngene Kariuki during a media briefing on August 22, 2019. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

OTIATO GUGUYU
By OTIATO GUGUYU
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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has replaced long serving Director-General Francis Wangusi in defiance of a court order stopping his ouster.

CA chairman Ngene Kariuki Thursday announced that the Director of Legal services, Mercy Wanjau, will hold the corner office in acting capacity until the authority chooses a substantive head.

Mr Kariuki said Mr Wangusi had been at the organisation for more than 15 years.

“As you may recall, Mr Wangusi assumed office in August 2012, having served in an acting capacity in the previous year. He has had a unique opportunity and honour of serving at the helm of the Authority for two terms and several more years as a head of department at CA,” Mr Kariuki said.

Mr Wangusi’s term ended yesterday but a court order obtained by activist Okiya Omtatah had voided the board that would have appointed his replacement.

The case, which is to be heard on Tuesday next week, contests the appointment of four board members handpicked by Information Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru and gazetted in July.

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The High Court issued stay orders that rendered the board seats of Mr Mahmoud Mohamed Noor, Mr Paul Muraguri Mureithi, Mr Jackson Kiprotich Kemboi and Ms Laura Chite vacant until the matter is heard.

“This court suspends Gazette notice No. 6657 of July 18, 2019 and issues a temporary injunction prohibiting the respondents and their agents pending the hearing and determination of this petition,” Justice Maureen Onyango said in her ruling last Friday.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek), which also filed an application at the Labour Relations Court challenging the replacement of Mr Wangusi on the basis that the board is not properly constituted, yesterday said it will file for contempt proceedings after Ms Wanjau’s appointment.

“This is an inconsequential appointment, the court ruled that the status quo remain until Tuesday next week and they were served with the court papers,” said Cofek chairman Stephen Mutoro.

Mr Wangusi has headed CA since 2012 and was reappointed as Director-General of the Authority for a four-year term effective August 22, 2015. However, in early 2018, he was ousted from the agency only to be reinstated later the same year.

Besides his employment dispute, Mr Wangusi’s time at the helm has been rocked by controversies including the award to Jamii Telecoms — the operator of the Faiba brand — a licence and coveted spectrum to operate another mobile phone service for just Sh100,000.

He also clashed with CS Mucheru over funding for the Ajira Digital Programme, a creation of the Department of Cyber Security and E-Commerce.

Before the August 8 2017 General Election, Mr Wangusi controversially warned media houses against relaying parallel transmission of results.