From the horizon, things seem to have fallen apart at the Kenya Meteorological Department as the centre can no longer hold, as they turn in a widening gyre.
The infighting within the department has taken a political dimension amid concerns that a section in the management is using some senior officers in the ministry of Environment and Forestry to fight those who applied for the then vacant position of director of one of Africa’s key security installation situated at Dagoretti Corner, along Ngong Road.
The position fell vacant in August 2018 following the retirement of James Ambenje. After the position was advertised by the Public Service Commission, Ambenje’s deputy directors in the department applied before the closing date for the application that was September 24 2018, Stella Aura who was by then acting in that office, Roselyn Amunyelet Ojala and Samuel Mwangi. Sources at Met disclosed that Ojala and Mwangi stood a higher chance of succeeding Ambenje given their performance and managerial experience in the department.
Others say that Ojala would have been the best bet given her record in the fight against corruption. Shockingly, the cartels within the department and the parent ministry assembled their arsenal and started fighting Ojala by frustrating her so that she withdraws from the race and probably resigns from her job.
They roped in current and former senior staff including Anne Kimani who was head of HR at KMD but still involved in the infightings within KMD even from the comfort of her retirement. Ojala was last January interdicted over alleged absenteeism and denied her January salary.
All along, she has been reporting twice a month to the office of her nemesis Aura, the director, KMD. When she complained to the ministry, she was placed on half salary until October 2019 when she was reinstated.
But three days later, she received another show-course letter from the same officer in the human resource office in the ministry called Ms Wamoto. Wamoto boasts to be close to powerful individuals at the ministry some who even have secret affairs with.
Among the reasons for the show-course letter is that she has not been reporting to the director as ordered in her interdiction letter, yet Ojala had fully complied with the directive.
Wamoto purportedly has been signing the letters on behalf of the cabinet secretary Environment and Forestry ministry Keriako Tobiko.
We have since confirmed from sources within KMD that Ojala has been responding to all the letters by Wamoto for Tobiko. However, on November 25 2019, Ojala received another letter signed by the same Wamoto for the CS, stopping her salary with effect from November 6 2019. She was required to respond to the letter within 21 days from the date the letter was penned which is November 12 2019.
The manner the letter reached her was suspect. First, the letter was not stamped as “received”, and second, it was hand delivered to her residence within the KMD staff quarters although it was addressed to her using her rural home address of Kakemer in Teso North constituency in Busia county which sounds unprocedural.
She replied to the letter on Wednesday, November 27 2019 and delivered an advance copy to Tobiko on the same day. In the last letter she wrote to the director KMD, she had similarly personally delivered an advance copy to the CS through his secretary.
Surprisingly, when she went to deliver the last one on Wednesday, all advance copies she had taken there were had not been given to the CS as the director, KMD had not forwarded the original letters.
So the impression created was that she has not been responding to all the letters sent to her. The evil strategy is meant to frustrate her so that she is either driven to depression like it has happened to KMD staff before or commit suicide.
Her MP who has been silent on the matter for a long time has now taken up the issue and is talking to some of his parliamentary colleagues with a view of not only saving the deputy director who has served diligently for 29 years, but also to demand a ministerial statement on how the recruitment of the director of the KMD was done.
They want answers as to how many applied including their names, who were shortlisted, what were their interview scores and who was appointed to be the director, KMD. It is important to note that there is currently low morale and desperation in the institution amid claims that most staff who graduated with masters degrees have not been promoted contrary to a policy on promotions which was developed by the ministry.
The workers are promoted selectively based on nepotism, favouritism, tribalism and corruption. There is no transition plan in the department given that majority of senior staff are above 55 which poses a serious challenge of transition in near future. For the record, KMD was formed in 1929 for purposes of forecasting the weather.
It is an institution that requires maximum attention not only by the government of the republic of Kenya, but also by the African Union and by extension, the United Nations Security Council. The institution also hosts several international organisations dealing with weather issues.
These include ICPAC, World Meteorological Organisation, Climate Change Directorate, National Meteorological Library Institute for Meteorological Training and Research and Igad Climate Prediction and Application Centre.
It is also key centre for global weather information exchange, a regional telecommunication hub which has offices of the World Weather Watch. Ten countries rely on that information exchange.
The institution is key to the determination of the future of this country as well as regional countries in relation to agriculture and national security.The first director was a Mr Davies before handing it over to a Mr Mureithi, followed by Mr Alusa, Evans Mukolwe, Joseph Mukabana, James Kongoti, Ambenje and now Aura all from Kakamega county.
Mukabana and Kongoti are from the same village while Ambenje and Mukolwe hail from Butere. If parliament establishes how the interviews were done, then the director will either come from Kirinyaga or Busia county.
For now, the services and staff and their welfare will continue to suffer until the ministry of Environment and Forestry and that of Public Service and Youth fix the problem without necessarily generating a political solution to a simple administrative matter.