25 February 2013

Kenya: Ndemo, Cofek Disagree Over CCK Board Appointment

THE Consumer Federation of Kenya has accused the Ministry of Information and Communications of flouting the law in the filling of the Communication Commission of Kenya board.

The federation said the CCK board was supposed to be fully reconstituted, as per the January 28 court order by Justice David Majanja. The ministry on Friday published an advertisement inviting applications for anyone who wants to be in the board as a consumers representative.

"According to the court, this would have meant that all vacancies at the CCK be advertised and due regard made to the registered societies in the various disciplines, the seven private sector directors would represent on the CCK board," Cofek secretary general Stephen Mutoro said.

The other six private sectors to be represented are law, postal services, broadcasting, radio communications, information technology or computer science and telecommunications.

But Information PS Bitange Ndemo responded to this saying, "The case is seeking to have the consumer position filled and we shall fill it transparently. It is only prudent to give a chance to all Kenyans by advertising the opening".

The minister has in the past been handpicking the board representatives which prompted the consumer lobby group body to move to court.

Mutoro said the advertisement inserted new requirements, stating the person must have experience in information and communications technology sector which is not in Section 6 of the Kenya Information and Communication Act.

According to Cofek, the advertisement omitted the provision that the representative should have 'knowledge or experience in consumer protection matters' and omitted the part saying 'The Minister shall have due regard to registered societies representing such matters in exercising his powers under this section'.

"We have consumer organisations in all sectors. That is why we seek someone with experience in that sector. We shall do the same for the broadcast sector especially at KBC where the law specifies the kind of directors," Ndemo said in an email response.

Mutoro also raised issue with that the applications will be directed to the permanent secretary,and not the minister who is supposed to appoint board members.

The court had given the parties up to March 14 to work out the board constitution but Cofek said it will proceed with the case to full determination. However, Mutoro said he is not looking to join the CCK board.

"Initially I was interested, not anymore, but Cofek will appoint a representative when proper consultation with all consumer groups is held," he said.

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