Plot to kick out chief executive divides LSK council members

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 00:00 |
Law Society of Kenya chief executive officer Mercy Wambua has been accused of gross misconduct by a council member. Photo/PD/FILE

Trouble is brewing at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) where a council member has demanded the removal of chief executive Mercy Wambua for alleged gross misconduct.

In an internal memo, Bernhard Kipkoech, who is one of the 12 members of the council, has accused Wambua of abuse of office, bias, fraud, incompetence, insubordination and gross negligence.

The memo addressed to staff and the budget and finance committee of the LSK was received by the society on November 19. According to the interviews conducted by People Daily, the memo has sharply divided the council.

The memo accuses Wambua of being “a saboteur towards a robust, pragmatic and progressive society because despite having two deputies and a personal assistant, her service delivery has been deteriorating”.

“The CEO is the spanner thrown at the progress of the society. She is everything the society does not need to progress vertically and horizontal. Or progress at all,” Kipkoech, who is one of the four upcountry representatives, says in the memo titled Misconduct by Chief Executive Officer of the Law Society of Kenya.

Personal gain

Yesterday, Wambua did not respond to our calls or text messages but LSK president Allen Gichuhi confirmed receiving the memo. 

He, however, described the contents as “very unfortunate” and tailored to malign the image of the CEO for personal gain.

According to him, the campaigns for the February elections were partly to blame for the claims against Wambua, saying some members were using dirty tricks to endear themselves to members.

“We will ensure the memo goes through the due process but what I can tell you is that the content is very unfortunate. And it’s coming at a time when people are campaigning and this is a scheme to bring down others,” he said.

Another council member, who did not wish to be identified, said a section of the council feels the claims by Kipkoech are not justified.

December meeting

“We have not sat down to discuss the matter. But there are some of us (council members) who think that the allegations are not justified… (Nevertheless) we have asked her to file responses so that we can deal with the matter fairly,” the member told People Daily.

Sources at LSK indicated the council plans to sit next month to deliberate on the matter.

In his memo, Kipkoech has also accused Wambua of issuing unauthenticated and exaggerated invoices to members during the 2018 annual conference. 

He says the was one of the lawyers affected and when they demanded explanations, they got unsatisfactory responses.

“I sought clarification from Michael Chege (at the secretariat) who had sent the inflated invoices and copied to the CEO  and there was no response except a truncated amount from the Chief Accountant,” Kipkoech said in his memo, which also accuses her of manipulating the council.

The CEO is also facing accusation of “incompetence and inefficiency”, with a case in point being delays in communicating key messages to the council.

She is also being accused of  “insubordination and lack of decorum” including opposing council members and rudely interrupting presentations and showing lack of respect to members.

For instance, he said, during a meeting where the issue of the Service Charter was raised, she allegedly mocked council members and “in some other instances she has reduced the council meetings to shouting contest as she disdainfully responds to questions put to her”. 

Second attempt

Further, Wambua has allegedly been frustrating some public interest cases, doctoring minutes of the council meetings, publishing minutes “in a manner only understood by her” and partisan usage of LSK communication channels.

This is not the first time Wambua is having an altercation with a section of the LSK members who are unhappy about her leadership style.

In September last year, a group of young lawyers planned a coup against her during a special general meeting over similar claims.

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