PSC faulted for retaining staff meant to retire

Monday, August 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Maureen Onyango.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has been put on the spot over the retention of civil servants who have attained the mandatory retirement age.

High Court observes that although the law allows PSC to grant contracts to retiring officers with specific skills, the window is prone to abuse and hinders upward mobility of junior officers.

Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Maureen Onyango made the comments in a case where one Stephen Ochieng’ had sued PSC for extending the term of a senior ministry of Lands official.

Although Justice Onyango did not nullify the extension of Edward Kosgei’s tenure as Director of Land Administration, the court reprimanded the ministry and PSC for the move.

In a judgement dated July 24, the judge said that since the contract has since lapsed, the orders sought have been redundant. 

“I commend the petitioner for his valiant efforts in keeping PSC on its toes to ensure that values of the public service are adhered to, and there are succession plans to meet the progressive requirements of the Constitution,” she said.

In a reprimand to the PSC and the ministry, the judge added; “The window is vulnerable to abuse and could be used to reward loyalists or keep cronies in public service at the expense of qualified persons.” 

Ochieng’ had moved to court in July last year after Kosgei got a two-year extension inspite of attaining the mandatory age of 60 years.

He listed PSC and Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning as first and second respondents while Kosgei was listed as interested party.

Ochieng’ told the court that Kosgei had been given notice to exit the public service and even cleared but he got a letter extending his tenure in the last minute. 

On July 26,  2019, PSC, through its Chief Executive Officer Simon Rotich, told the court that the ministry of Lands wrote to his office on June 14, 2019, just two weeks before the expected exit of Kosgey claiming there were serious succession gaps in the department of Land Administration.

Provides details

PSC argued that although the petitioner had claimed that Kosgei’s tenure extension had affected upward mobility of some officers, he had not provided details of the officers. 

The ministry has six officers serving as Deputy Directors, eight assistant directors and six  principal land administration officers who serve under Kosgei.

Kosgei’s deputies include Peter Mutwiwa, Nancy Kathiga, Gordon Ochieng’, Faith Karuri, Elizabeth Njoroge and Jacob Kaburu.

The ministry’s head of human resource Anne Karithi had also told the court that there were severe succession management problems in the Land administration Department despite efforts to fast track promotion of senior officers.

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