Energy Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma is under fire for bypassing the Council of Governors (CoG) nominees to the Rural Electrification and Energy Corporation (Rerec) and making appointments based on an out-of-date law.
The six directors were chosen by Juma on April 14 for a three-year term under the Energy Act of 2006, which expired in 2019.
The Energy Act of 2019, which was designed to guide board appointments, permits the cabinet secretary to select three directors and the CoG to recruit four.
The selections were announced on April 14 in the Kenya Gazette.
Curiously, Juma appointed four directors to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority under the Energy Act of 2019.
Martin Njoroge, an activist, has been granted permission to initiate a lawsuit against the board appointments by Justice George Odunga.
Juma’s acts are also unconstitutional, according to the activists, and she is unqualified to occupy public office.
Njoroge has until May 6 to bring a lawsuit, according to the judge.
“That leave be and is hereby granted to the applicant to apply for judicial review by way of an order for judicial review by way of an order of a declaration hat promulgating gazette notice…the Cabinet Secretary for Energy Monica Juma has violated section 45(1) of Energy Act 2019 and articles 10 and 232 of the constitution and is therefore unfit to hold any public office,” the judge said.
According to Njoroge, Hassan Sora, Rhoda Njuguna, Isaac Mbeche, Samson Maundu, Henry Rono, and Hassan Mohamud Haji were appointed to the Rerec board using the 2006 Act, which was repealed in March 2019. The decision to exclude the CoG nominees will bolster Juma’s grip on the Rerec board, which is already dominated by Cabinet secretary appointees.
CoG’s expanded participation on the Rerec board is the result of modifications to the 2019 law, which expanded the agency’s scope to include collaboration with county governments to deepen electricity connection fundraising, research, and the construction of a renewable energy master plan.
Through the National Government Constituencies Development Fund, the state agency is working with county governments and constituencies to improve rural electricity.
County governments and constituency development funds will cover half of the cost of transporting power to rural areas and retail centre, particularly in dry and semi-arid areas, as part of the agreement.
“By purporting to appoint board members of the interested party using a repealed statute, the cabinet secretary for Energy has subverted the law, acted with impunity and bestowed on herself powers that she does not have, given her failure to take into account the role of the [CoG] in the appointment of board members,” Njoroge said.
The legal struggle comes only weeks after Juma lost his bid to overturn the previous board’s decision to hire 230 personnel to meet Rerec’s broader mission in the counties, which expired in February.
Juma attempted to halt the appointment of the 230 workers, accusing them of nepotism and illegally raising Rerec staff numbers without a budget.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission found no abnormalities, but the Energy Ministry refused to hire anyone, triggering a lawsuit and State House intervention.
On November 8, Juma petitioned Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to keep the parastatals under her ministry frozen.
“The recruitment should, however, only be undertaken upon alignment with the approved human resource instruments and possession of written confirmation of requisite budgets for the recruitment and sustainability thereof from the National Treasury [as well as] existence of board resolutions approving the recruitment,” he said.