Win for surveyor transferred to Garissa over Kenyatta's Taita farm
The Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) has quashed a decision by the Cabinet Secretary for Land to transfer a senior official to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.
Justice Agnes Nzei also issued an order directing immediate payment of Ms Rachel Mutheu Ndambuki’s salary arrears accrued from February last year, if they have not been paid and thereafter monthly.
She was involved, as the in-charge, with the allocation of land to squatters at the Ziwani settlement scheme, a sub-division of Gicheha Farm-linked with the Kenyatta family.
Ms Ndambuki, a principal land surveyor, sued the Ministry of Lands CS and Principal Secretary and the Attorney General seeking to have her transfer to the Ministry of Petroleum quashed.
She also sought orders to compel the respondents to comply with orders emanating from a constitutional petition she had filed in 2019 challenging her transfer to Garissa.
The transfer and demotion to Garissa were linked to her efforts to thwart attempts to grab land at a settlement scheme in Taita Taveta county.
Justice Nzei noted that the court had made orders relating to the petition by Ms Ndambuki but the respondents disobeyed them.
The judge said that instead of reinstating Ms Ndambuki to the office to continue with her duties as the in-charge survey office Taita Taveta without undue interference as ordered, the respondents deliberately ignored and disobeyed the orders.
She noted that the respondents purported to transfer Ms Ndambuki on June 27 last year from the Ministry of Lands to that of Petroleum saying it was a clear bid to defeat the court orders.
“The culture of impunity has no place in a civilised society like ours and must come to an end, one cannot talk about the rule of law without talking about obedience to court orders,” said Justice Nzei.
She also warned that disobedience of court orders is a vice that, if not checked, can eat into the fabrics that hold a society together.
Justice Nzei also issued an order compelling the respondents to hand over the survey office, Taita Taveta to Ms Ndambuki as the in-charge under the supervision of the Director of Surveys.
The court also ordered the respondents to pay Ms Ndambuki Sh3.5 million awarded and decreed as general damages in the constitutional petition and that in default to compliance of the orders they shall be cited for contempt of court.
Ms Ndambuki had argued that she had built a career as a surveyor for close to two decades and the decision to transfer her to another Ministry without stating designation, grade or the role she was to take up was to condemn her career, skills and experience to the grave.
She told the court that when she was transferred to Taita-Taveta in 2017 she found complaints and street protests by some squatters of Ziwani phase one and two of the settlement scheme on land donated from Gicheha Farm.
Ms Ndambuki said that she learnt that the reason for the protests was the existence of a list of non-squatters who were to be considered for allocation of Ziwani phase one and two vide a letter dated July 24 2018 issued by a Deputy Commissioner to the Land Adjudication & Settlement Officer Taveta, in place of genuine squatters.
Ms Ndambuki said that she was called by the CS for Land on February 4, 2019, and asked why she was allocating land in Gicheha Farm which was owned by the Kenyatta Family, an allegation she (Ms Ndambuki) denied.
Ms Ndambuki said she was later issued with a letter deploying her to Garissa's survey office prompting her to file the petition.
The respondents through the Attorney General said the transfer of Ms Ndambuki to the Ministry of Petroleum was normal and was communicated to her by the Director of Human Resources through a letter by the Public Service Commission dated June 15, 2022.
They said that the transfer was devoid of ill-will or malice and it also affected other officers who were deployed in various stations and departments.