The Kenyan government on Thursday appointed a diplomat to head the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on an acting capacity as the process of appointing the new Managing Director stalls for more than 13 months.
KPA board of directors announced the appointment of Amb John Mwangemi as the new acting MD to replace Eng. Rashid Salim who has been acting for more than a year and is now proceeding on leave ahead of his retirement in September.
“The KPA board wishes to announce the appointment of the new MD takes effect from 1st July 2021 as Eng Rashid Salim proceeds on retirement. The new acting MD will hold the position until a substantive managing director is appointed,” a statement from the KPA board states.
Amb Mwangemi is Kenya’s immediate former ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad). He exited the office last month.
He previously served as Kenya’s High Commissioner to Rwanda and he has also held executive leadership positions in the corporate world locally and internationally.
The position of the KPA managing director fell vacant in March last year after then MD Daniel Manduku, who had held the post for less than two years, resigned after battling graft allegations for months. Mr Salim was appointed on an interim basis.
Amb Mwangemi will be key in the management as the term of KPA chairman, General (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana, and three other board members also lapsed on June 5 and Mr Salim proceeds on three-month terminal leave ahead of his retirement in three months.
Since then, the government has conducted three interview to get a replacement but they have been unsuccessful with the failure of the first two attempts blamed on political interference. Ukur Yatani, Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning, said the third attempt was delayed due to the ongoing restructuring of port management.
In May, Mr Yatani said the ongoing restructuring will ensure that the three main ports in the country are each headed by a managing director to make them autonomous.
The CS said the restructuring has affected the appointment of the MD after hiring deadline expired about a month ago but the government was at the final stage in making a decision.
“We are at the final stage and soon we shall announce how each port will have independent management,” he said then.
If the new structure is adopted, Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu ports will each have its own MD.
According to sources, the push by senior government officials to have their own appointed to head the authority has delayed the exercise whereas CS Yatani had earlier ordered the hiring process to end within 45 days.
On March 2, CS Yatani rejected three names the board had forwarded to him, saying the candidates did not attain the mandatory 70 marks and above in the interviews.
Late April, Mr Yatani reneged on his earlier statement, saying he did not set any fixed timeliness for the hiring process and on Thursday he raised the new issue of restructuring as the reason for the delay.
According to sources privy to the hiring process, already three names have been submitted to the CS but there has been political interference which is delaying the whole process.
“The names we submitted on by April 13, the last day which was set by the CS when he revoked the whole process forcing the board to do it for the third time. We understand there is push and pull from senior government officials who want their own to head KPA,” said the source.
The board was expected to forward three names to the CS to appoint the MD.