Dr Florence Nyokabi, Acting NGEC Chair. IMAGE/ COURTESY

The National Gender and Equality Commission could be an organ on its death bed, only existing by name and not by action.

The problem is deep-rooted at the NGEC leadership comprising of Dr Florence Nyokabi (Acting Commission Chair), Dr Gumato Ukur (Commissioner) and Sora Katelo (Acting Commission Secretary/CEO).

Dr Nyokabi contested for the Woman Representative position in Nyeri County in the 2017 general elections but failed. Despite emerging number four during the interviews, she was picked in place of Prof Maria Wambui Nzomo who had emerged first.

Prof Nzomo, despite her impeccable credentials and track record on governance was rejected on grounds that she came from the same ethnic background as two of the commissioners.

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“Although Prof. Maria Wambui Nzomo, was the top ranked performer in the interview for Chairperson of the Commission, her nomination would not conform to the requirements of Article 232 (1)(h) and (i)(ii) of the Constitution of Kenya, Section 11(13) of the National Gender and Equality Commission Act and Section 7(1) and (2) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act. This is because two (2) of the current three (3) members of the Commission are Kenyans of the same ethnic background as Prof Nzomo,” stated the parliament report.

According to sources within NGEC, the commission is ailing under the watch of Dr Florence Nyokabi and Dr Gumato Ukur.

“The same grounds cited to deny Prof Nzomo the chance to head the Commission should apply thus pave way for the rejection of Hon Priscilla Nyokabi. In a country with over 42 tribes having two commissioners in the same Commission drawn from the same County defeats on the ideals of having diversity and the face of Kenya in the public service. To give other tribes an opportunity to serve, the nomination of Hon Priscilla Nyokabi should be nullified,” says a disgruntled source within NGEC.

Under the watch of the commissioners, sex for jobs, sexual harassment and intimidation of staff has been a norm in the commission.

“There are incidences of soliciting sex for jobs and promotions these are perpetuated by Sora Katelo the acting CEO,” says a staffer who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation. Sora Katelo is related to Dr Gumato Ukur.

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To cover his tracks and employ his girlfriends, the Ag. CEO has been circumventing the due process. Equally, Commissioner Florence Nyokabi is privy to this matter as one of the lady (an alleged beneficiary of sex for jobs) comes from her tribe and she conveniently chose to abet the crime.

“The staff are ready to disclose the sexual harassment incidences perpetuated by the acting CEO. The culture of silence has prevailed for long as most of the aggrieved staff are threatened with contract non-renewal among other threats,” adds our mole.

Apart from the sexual rot in the commission, favouritism, nepotism and tribalism are the centre of staff promotions and recruitment.

At the NGEC internship programme, the current batch of interns has about 26 interns out of which an estimated 15% come from Marsabit County in which some are alleged to be related to the acting CEO.

Our mole intimates that in anticipation of the coming of new Commissioners, the acting CEO working with the blessings of two Commissioners are strategically placing and promoting their relatives and tribesmen disregarding other competent staff who are neither Gabra nor Kikuyu.

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To qualify this, Halima B. an office assistant and Bidu J, the personal assistant to commissioner Gumato have been secretly redeployed to positions in the finance department. Anne Bora, a records officer has been promoted to the position of a programme officer in a post created to specifically suit her. Allegedly, Bora is a sister in law to the acting CEO.  

The basic requirements for a personal assistant commissioner is a first degree. One of the PA is third year university student related to the commissioner. One personal assistant to a commissioner (who does not even possess a first degree) is earning close to Ksh300,000 per month more than the head of programmes.

From 2014 to date, NGEC has never hired a substantive CEO. From 2014 to January 2018, Paul Kuria was the acting CEO. His contract expired and was not renewed; the period he acted surpassed the limit set by the Employment Act. Sora Katelo replaced Paul Kuria as the Ag. CEO. This has been intentionally done to ensure that the acting CEO at any particular time plays a submissive role to the commissioners.

The lack of a substantive CEO has affected the performance of the commission as the position has largely attracted office holders who have limited capacity but eager to please the commissioners for their survival.

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In January 2018, the commission advertised for various positions namely; assistant director legal, assistant director programmes, legal officers, programme officers and supply chain management assistant. The shortlisting and interview process for the supply chain management assistant has already taken place but it was done in a fraudulent manner where one of the interviewees W K Barille, an alleged relative of the Ag. CEO Sora Katelo was asked a different set of questions from other interviewees in a bid to give her an upper hand. She ultimately emerged “top” and got the job.

The shortlisting of the programme officers has been done single handedly by the commissioners circumventing the laid down procedures. The interviews began on June 4 2018 in a bid to quicken the process so as to have the board rubber stamp the “successful” candidates once the new commissioners get in office.

The commission has also been accused of over-reliance on external consultants due to incompetent staff and conflict of interest perpetuated by the NGEC leadership.

Most of the field activities done by NGEC involve hiring external consultants who mostly are associated with the Commissioners. This constitutes wastage of resources as it defeats the purpose of hiring a consultant to undertake a job and then facilitate the staff with per diems to be enjoined in the same activity. For instance the monitoring and evaluation department annually allocates a hefty budget to develop the monitoring and evaluation indicators. This is assigned to some consultants to undertake the job.

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In 2014, the commission launched an exercise to map ethnic minority and marginalized communities in Kenya in a bid to profile them and have their issues mainstreamed in national and county development. To date the report has never been published.

“If the findings were shared with the Commission of Revenue Allocation more resources would have been allocated in our favour of marginalised communities. With the talk that the constitutional commissions will be merged, NGEC opened more regional offices to fool the National Assembly and Treasury for increased allocation,” says a top employee in the commission, who is agitated by the rot.

Employees and stakeholders are now calling out for an overhaul of the commission to rid it off the rot that is threatening to bring it down.

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