Battle rages for Ringera’s Sh2.5m job

Published on 08/06/2009

By Cyrus Ombati and Maseme Machuka

The battle for one of the most lucrative jobs in Kenya — the Sh2.5 million-a-month for the director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission — is on.

The job is stirring interest in major political parties after it emerged at the weekend that President Kibaki had already given his assent to the new Kenya Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, paving way for the process of filling the position occupied by Justice Aaron Ringera whose term expires in September.

The position has caught the attention of major political players and battlelines are already drawn.

ODM is expected to fight off any attempt to hand another term to Ringera, who, according to highly placed sources in Government, could be headed for a second term in office.

“The broader Government perspective is that his term be renewed,” said a highly placed Government source. “We are talking to him and will know whether he would request a renewal. He has the experience and the institutional memory needed for such an office.”

Sources within ODM indicated that they would root for a former Law Society of Kenya chairman to succeed Ringera.

However, ODM Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o on Sunday said the party did not have anyone in mind. “There must be consultation and concurrence between coalition partners before any appointment is made. It’s a very important seat.”

The director of the commission is on a five-year-contract and is eligible for reappointment, but not for more than two terms. Ringera, who was appointed in 2004, is thus eligible.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo recently said he would not wait for September to fill the position.

Attracted by the lucrative pay package that comes with the position, several lawyers have started lobbying politicians in the major political parties even before the job is advertised.

When she was Justice and Constitutional Minister, Ms Martha Karua raised concerns over the director’s huge pay perks.

Karua had told Parliament that the Sh2.5 million paid to Ringera was unsustainable and recommended a review.

Heavy criticism

Accordingly, Karua said she would table a Motion to amend the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, which mandated an advisory board that does not have a Government representative to negotiate the remuneration package for KACC staff.

Ringera has come under heavy criticism for failing to bring to book those involved in mega corruption.

The commission’s advisory board was approved by Parliament and was awaiting presidential assent to start the process of filling Ringera’s job and that of assistant director, Ms Fatuma Sichale.

President Kibaki gave his assent to the names of the new advisory board on May 27 and they were gazetted on Friday.

A close confidant of Ringera says the Court of Appeal Judge was encouraged by Parliament’s reappointment of two assistant directors two weeks ago.

“He (Ringera) sees the reappointment of his team as an endorsement of the good job done.

Parliament cleared Dr John Mutonyi for the position of assistant director (investigations and asset tracking) and Mr Wilson Kiprotich as assistant director (finance and administration).

“He is happy and in high spirits since the two were cleared. But he has not told us if he is interested in his position. He may,” said our source who talked to use on condition of anonymity.

Ringera did not take our calls since Friday. We had wanted to ask him if he would reapply for the highly coveted position, for which he has been seeking more powers to prosecute corruption suspects.

On Sunday, KACC Spokesman Nicholas Simani said he was not aware if Ringera would apply for his position.

Mr Simani added that they would have to wait for the new advisory board to be installed, elect a chairman and spell out conditions of eligibility before anything happens.

“For now, it is difficult for me to say anything on whether he will or not,” said Simani.

Board to invite applications

The new board is expected to invite applications, vet them and forward a shortlist to Parliament for approval.

The successful candidates’ names would then be forwarded to the President for approval.

Former Mandera Central MP Billow Kerrow was among nine people nominated by Parliament, but was dropped by the President in the gazetted list on Friday.

Other nominees are Mr John Khameme (Kenya Bankers Association), Mrs Jacqueline Mugo (Federation of Kenya Employers), Mr Reuben Kosgei (Institute of Engineers of Kenya) and Dr Abdallah Athman Kibwana (Kenya Medical Association) were approved.

Others are Mr Suru Tana (Kenya Association of Manufacturers), Ms Irene Keino (Architectural Association of Kenya), Ms Grace Kaome Injene (Association of Professional Societies of East Africa) and Mr Francis Wangara (Central Organisation of Trade Union).

The KACC Act states that the director and assistant directors should be recommended by the Advisory Board and approved by the National Assembly for appointment.

On quality, the Act says: “One must be knowledgeable about or experienced in at least law, public administration, accounting and financial matters or fraud investigation and be a person of outstanding honesty and integrity.”

When the office of the director becomes vacant, the board is expected to, within three months, recommend a person to be appointed to fill the vacancy.

Prior to the appointment, Ringera was a judge of the Court of Appeal and previously a High Court judge.

While serving as High Court judge, Ringera was the chairman of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Committee of the Judiciary.

He has also served as Solicitor-General of Kenya.

He has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in law from the University of Nairobi and a diploma in International and Comparative Law of Human Rights from Strasbourg, France.

— Additional reporting by David Ohito

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