State procurement officials suffer blow as order revoked

The government’s decision to suspend all heads of procurement and accounting units in all ministries and parastatal organisations remains in force.

Employment and Labour Relations judge Onesmus Makau yesterday revoked orders he issued on June 6 freezing the directive by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to the affected officials to proceed on compulsory leave for 30 days as preparations for their fresh vetting are made.

Justice Makau had blocked the government directive following an urgent petition lodged by activist Okiya Omtatah on the basis that the decision was made in an irregular and opaque manner without public participation. He had protested that the decision violated the Constitution and fundamental rights of innocent civil servants.

The judge had said Omtatah had raised genuine issues concerning the plight of the officials because Kinyua’s June 4 circular did not specify any allegations to justify the temporary removal from office of the employees. He had further said the deadline given to the officers to surrender documents was too short.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had declared during his Madaraka Day speech at Kinoru Stadium in Meru that the officers would undergo fresh vetting, including lie-detector tests to determine their integrity and suitability to serve in public office.

In his June 4 circular, Kinyua had ordered the officials to submit personal information relating to their assets and liabilities and record of service to the Office of the Head of Public Service at Harambee House by last Friday.

“The exercise is geared towards determining suitability to continue holding office in the public trust and promote confidence in the public service,” Kinyua had advised.

Omtatah had explained that it was unreasonable and unprocedurally unfair to punish public officials who had not been accused of any wrong-doing. The wholesale condemnation of the affected officers was discriminatory and was likely to adversely affect public service, he had said.

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