September 19th 2017

Top Stories / National

Coast trade unionist detained for blocking Ruto ally from multibillion water tender

With Mr Kimutai determined to assume office despite the court order, Mr Mackenzie took what the workers viewed as a bold step by ordering them on a go-slow. She had on Friday stormed the office where Mr Kimutai was meeting some senior staff and loudly asked the incoming CEO to obey court orders.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 07 May 2017 15:07 EAT

CWSB Chief Shop Steward Lilian Mackenzie.

A female trade union from the Coast Water Services Board has spent the weekend in police cells for alleged charges of incitement and is due to be prosecuted tomorrow. Chief Shop Steward Lilian Mackenzie was arrested Saturday after she ordered workers to down their tools and stop water supply from Marere, Mzima and Baricho plants to block the appointment of new CEO Jacob Kimutai.

Mr Kimutai's appointment last week was made in contravention of a Labour Court order that had stayed the decision after a local resident Abdalla Miraji raised objections to the appointment, alleging that deputy president William Ruto was unduly influencing it as a means of controlling a Sh2.7 billion tender for the development of water projects.

The Labour court's order prohibited the CWSB and its directors (respondents in the suit) from proceeding with Mr Kimutai's appointment until the court would be satisfied with the procedure followed. The applicant had said in his papers that the appointment was “unfair and secretive". 

The applicant wanted the board compelled by the court to advertise the position in all dailies with national circulation, and that applicants' names and their qualifications also be published in the newspapers and the board's website. The respondents were also required to publish the named of short-listed applicants and their qualifications, and the criteria used to select them.

However, once parties had been served, with the court yet to issue the orders, the board went ahead to make Mr Kimutai's appointment by sending his name to the cabinet secretary for Water Eugene Wamalwa who quickly made the appointment. CWSB acting chairperson Sureya Hersi has denied allegations that Mr Ruto influenced their decision but the workers maintain they have evidence for their claim.

With Mr Kimutai determined to assume office despite the legal challenges, Mr Mackenzie took what the workers viewed as a bold step by ordering them on a go-slow. She had on Friday stormed the office where Mr Kimutai was meeting some senior staff and loudly asked the incoming CEO to obey court orders.

She wondered what kind of leadership Mr Kimutai would provide if he was not obeying court orders. She said the CEO was being hired through influence peddling and not on merit. Other allegations are that Mr Kimutai was sacked from his previous employment, claims the Board's chairperson Ms Hersi denied. This website could not verify the claims independently.

Employees at the company have been demanding that outgoing CEO Joseph Omwange, who has been acting for 17 months, ought to have been confirmed to the position. In the case this was not done, they wanted the position to be widely advertised in order for the board to get the most qualified candidate.

The employees are planning large scale demonstration on Monday until the CEO shall have vacated the office.

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