Senators probe meddling claims of CAK search for director-general

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Senators probe meddling claims of CAK search for director-general

Wednesday February 14 2024

The Competition Authority of Kenya has appointed Adano Wario (right) as acting director-general after the term of Wang’ombe Kariuki (left) ended. PHOTO | COURTESY

Senators have opened investigations into the recruitment process of the director-general of the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) after meddling claims emerged.

Spilling the beans on Tuesday, Senate National Cohesion Committee chairperson Mohamed Chute detailed how 33 applicants were sneaked into the final shortlist that had 22 names who had already made the cut.

The position of the CAK director-general fell vacant following the exit of Wang’ombe Kariuki after serving for two terms of five years each.

The board then named Adano Wario, an insider, to head the organisation in an acting capacity effective January 2023.

Marsabit Senator Chute alleged that the Authority added the 33 applicants despite them failing to meet the requirements for the DG role.

CAK had outsourced hiring to a management consulting firm, ACAL Consulting, he said.

According to the senator, the firm shortlisted 22 candidates, who had met the requirements initially advertised, which were later abandoned to accommodate the 33 new applicants.

Mr Chute said the Authority had set some rigorous conditions only to later remove them.

“The strict conditions locked out many people. But the 33 who did not meet these conditions were brought back and the requirement that barred them was removed,” said Mr Chute.

The details emerged after nominated Senator Raphael Chimera sought to know the circumstances under which CAK had exempted some qualifications that were initially in the original call for applications.

The CAK board began the hiring process in August 2022 to replace Mr Kariuki whose term was coming to an end in January the following year.

Read: Competition agency starts hunt for Wang’ombe successor

The Authority had invited applicants for the position targeting economics, statistics, law, and business professionals with at least 15 years of relevant work experience.

Tendering process

The Senate committee is now seeking details of the tendering process for the procurement of recruitment services. The senators want all documentation regarding the hiring process, including the advert, gazette notice, as well as how the recruitment company was contracted to carry out the exercise.

The senators also want a report on the fairness of the recruitment process, confirmation of claims of conflict of interest in the operations of CAK and a clarification on whether the Public Service Commission is monitoring the recruitment process to ensure that it aligns with principles of meritocracy.

“We are trying to dig this information on how some of the requirements were exempted to add more people into the programme. For us to get to the root of the matter, let the Principal Secretary and the chairperson attend in person next Tuesday,” said Mr Chute.

“We also want the company to come before us and tell us the people they shortlisted and why up to today, nothing is happening,” he added.

The committee had summoned CAK chairperson Shaka Kariuki to appear before it following the allegations.

However, Mr Kariuki wrote back, delegating the task to the acting DG Mr Wario and the Director Corporate Service Erick Mwangi.

But the senators sent the two officials away, noting that they were not the right individuals to answer the emerging questions.

“The letter here is signed by one Shaka Kariuki, if he is your chair I don’t understand why he is not here today. He is supposed to be here to answer these. It is as if he is running away from his responsibilities,” said Mr Chute.

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