A few hours after six Bomet County executive committee members (CECs) who were bundled out by the county assembly sought and obtained injunctive orders, Governor Hillary Barchok reorganised his Cabinet.
Dr Barchok has reduced the departments from 10 to seven, collapsing in what is clearly is meant to cure a quorum hitch in the Cabinet.
Following the firing of the six CECs by the assembly a week ago, the county had only four CECs whose threshold was below what is required to transact business.
But in a rejoinder, the CECs through their lawyer Peter Wanyama said the move to merge departments was illegal and should be reversed.
“What the governor has done in the reorganisation of government is illegal and unconstitutional as such reorganisation requires a public participation process and a concurrence [of] the county assembly,” Mr Wanyama told the Nation on Thursday morning.
Labour court Judge Bryam Ongaya sitting in Nairobi on Wednesday, issued interim orders barring the governor and the county assembly and from removing the petitioners from office, interfering with their contract, terms and benefits.
The court also barred Dr Barchok from nominating or appointing any person to serve in the positions that the petitioners hold in the county with the county assembly equally being stopped from vetting any nominees for the positions.
Nairobi lawyer Peter Wanyama, representing the CECs, also obtained orders compelling county Speaker Shadrack Rotich to provide the petitioners with the Hansard proceedings of August 21, 2019 when MCAs voted to bundle them out of office.
In his latest move, Governor Barchok has merged the department of Education with that of Social Services and Sports while Lands and Housing has been amalgamated with Urban Management, Water and Environment.
The Department of Administration, Public Service and Information, Communication Technology, which was domiciled in the governor’s office, has been scrapped in the restructured system.
“The new structure of the executive will now have seven departments as the primary units of service delivery. The changes are intended to ensure that there is effective and efficient service delivery to the people of Bomet,” said a statement issued by Director of Communications Ezra Kirui.
In the changes, Mr Andrew Sigei, the CEC in charge of Finance and Economic Planning, will also be acting in the Roads, Public Works and Transport docket.
Dr Joseph Sitonik, the CEC in charge of Medical Services and Public Health, will also be in charge of Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives.
Mrs Juliana Yegon takes over the expanded docket of Education, Social Services and Sports and will also be acting in the Lands, Housing and Urban Management, Water and Environment docket.
Newly appointed Trade, Energy, Tourism and Investment CEC Juliana Chepkuto was not affected in the changes which take effect immediately.
Dr Barchok had earlier expressed intentions to hasten the process of presenting other nominees for vetting by the assembly in order for the Cabinet to have a forum within a short period, but the move has been dealt a blow by the court orders obtained by the embattled CECs.
“We do not have a quorum as we require more than six members to sit, but we will fast-track the remaining process to fill the vacant positions. We will chart the way forward on the matter with assembly leadership,” said Dr Barchok at the time.
It will now take a longer for Dr Barchok to fill the vacant CEC positions following the court orders.