State defends controversial appointment of Coast water agency directors

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Justice Matheka ruled that the squatters had failed to prove that they possessed the land in an open, visible, continuous and uninterrupted period of 12 years.

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The Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation has defended the appointment of three people to the board of directors of the Coast Water Works Development Agency (CWWDA).

The CS says the process was competitive and identified appointees with high integrity.

In an affidavit by Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge, the CS says the current board represents the diversity of the Coast region, with the chairperson a resident of Kwale County.

The affidavit was a response to a petition filed by Mr Julius Ogogoh asking the High Court in Mombasa to quash a Kenya Gazette notice appointing Rehana Ismail, Abdul Timimi and Joseph Charo Kambi to the board of directors of CWWDA for three years.

Mr Ogogoh, a human rights activist, accuses the CS of ‘singlehandedly” appointing Ms Ismail, Mr Timimi and Mr Kambi in a process that was not open, transparent and competitive.

The PS rejects Mr Ogogoh’s claim that he and other qualified and interested Kenyans were not granted an equal opportunity to be appointed.

“The CS conducted a vetting process based on, among other considerations, the county of residence, background, due diligence and diversity test in public service on all persons who expressed their interest before settling on the three as members of CWWDA,” Mr Njoroge says.

Mr Njoroge, who wants the case dismissed, also says the three board members had taken up their appointments and that it will not serve any useful purpose to disturb selections lawfully made by the CS.

The CS and CWWDA also argue that the case is a nullity in law and that Mr Ogogoh is not entitled to the orders he seeks.

“The first respondent (CS) avers that the suit is premature before this court for non-exhaustion of internal dispute resolution processes available,” the affidavit says.

Mr Ogogoh argues that the appointments lack proper legal backing and are an abuse of the law and specific procedures as provided for by the Water Act.

He also argues that the CS’s decision to appoint the three is arbitrary, irregular and beyond his legal powers.

Under the Water Act, he argues, the CS must ensure an appointee conforms to the provisions of articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution in addition to having an open and competitive process.

“The applicant as other residents of Mombasa county and coast region should be accorded an opportunity to participate in the appointment of the persons to hold public office in government agencies such as CWWDA,” Mr Ogogoh says.

He argues that the rule of law and established procedures for public institutions will be trashed if the CS’s decision is allowed to stand.

The case will be mentioned on November 7.

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