Managers shake-up triggers panic at Kenya Revenue Authority

Times Tower

Times Tower, Kenya Revenue Authority headquarters in Nairobi. Anxiety has gripped the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) where staff changes continue to be effected at senior management level following the exit of Commissioner-General James Githii Mburu.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Anxiety has gripped the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) where staff changes continue to be effected at senior management level following the exit of Commissioner-General James Githii Mburu.

The shake-up, which started with Mr Mburu’s exit on Thursday, has cascaded to chief managers as new KRA chairman Anthony Nganga Mwaura, who is President William Ruto’s ally, moves to put in place key personnel who will drive the Kenya Kwanza government’s agenda.

KRA has a target to collect Sh3 trillion by the end of the next financial year. Saturday Nation yesterday established that several Deputy Commissioners were locked out of KRA’s operating system on Thursday night, effectively making them unable to perform their duties.

Another six senior managers in procurement, intelligence and strategic operations, corporate support service, customs and border control, and domestic taxes departments are said to have also had their system access de-activated, without any formal communication as to their fates.

At least 40 senior managers are said to have been affected. Mr Mwaura, without detailing the extent of the shake-up, on Thursday said the board is committed to effecting far-reaching changes at the state agency.

“This is a total overhaul,” Mr Mwaura told Saturday Nation. In the latest shake-up, only three Commissioners were retained: Dr Mohammed Omar (Strategy Innovation and Risk Management), Dr Fred Mugambi Mwirigi (Kenya School of Revenue Administration) and Paul Matuku (Legal Services and Board Coordination).

Those who were kicked out are Ms Lilian Nyawanda (Commissioner, Customs and Border Control), Mr Terra Saidimu (Commissioner, Intelligence & Strategic Operations), Mr David Kinuu (Commissioner, Corporate Support Services) and Mr Edward Kinyua Karanja (Investigation and Enforcement).

Ruto's warning

Some of the commissioners are said to have been on the radar of the Kenya Kwanza administration from the day Dr Ruto was declared winner of the August 9 presidential election. Even before he was sworn in, President Ruto met this group at his then-residence in Karen twice and issued a stern warning that it would not be business as usual. After assuming office, Dr Ruto is said to have met Mr Mburu’s group twice at State House.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General Githii Mburu

The board of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has announced the resignation of Commissioner-General Githii Mburu. Rispah Simiyu (inset), the commissioner of domestic taxes, will take over as acting boss.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

The fate of the affected commissioners was sealed when President Ruto met them again at the KRA boardroom. The affected individuals are said to have been sent on compulsory leave but have not received any formal letters from KRA, according to a source familiar with the ongoing changes at the Times Tower.

KRA has over the years come under fire from business leaders who have complained of a regime that is largely unpredictable and one that over-burdens a few taxpayers in the formal sector. The new administration has said it will be looking at a tax policy where the super-rich contribute the highest revenue to the government.

Dr Ruto insists KRA has the potential to raise Sh3 trillion in ordinary revenue this financial year ending June 2023, Sh538 billion more than the Sh2.14 trillion target set by the previous administration. The President has directed KRA to “collect every shilling due” from both individual taxpayers as well as corporates.

Commissioners who have been sent on terminal level leave have been replaced by Ms Pamela Ahago (Customs and Border Control), Mr David Mwangi (Domestic Taxes), Mr David Yego (Intelligence, Strategic Operations, Investigation and Enforcement) and Ms Nancy Ng'etich (Corporate Support Services).

It has also emerged that some senior leaders in the Kenya Kwanza administration were uncomfortable with one of the commissioners, whom they claim was used by the previous administration to go after those who were accused of tax evasion, in a political witch-hunt.

Mr Mwaura said that some human resource managers have been hiring people without authorisation of the board. He added that some senior officers at border points as well as ports have been redeployed in a bid “to nab individuals who cost the government billions of shillings”.

Mr Yego takes over a position that Mr Mburu once occupied. The former KRA boss survived a recruitment process that attracted several court cases and a failed boardroom coup to replace Mr John Njiraini at the corner office in Times Tower.