Kenya: LSK Council Halts Havi's Scheme to Kick Out Wambua

20 October 2020

Internal wrangles rocking the Law Society of Kenya escalated yesterday as nine members of the top decision-making organ turned their guns against president Nelson Havi.

At the centre of the row is LSK chief executive Mercy Wambua, whom Mr Havi had kicked out of office yesterday morning.

But just after he had released his communication, nine members of the LSK Council issued a rejoinder indicating that Ms Wambua was still in office and her contract had not been terminated.

"I'm still in office discharging my duties. I don't know why he is fighting me," said Ms Wambua. She also pointed out that her attempted removal did not follow the procedures spelled out in LSK Act.

Gross misconduct

"Like with any board, decisions are with the majority. I am as confused as you are about the statements purporting having my contract terminated. But as we speak, I am in the office carrying out my official duties," she said.

While dismissing Mr Havi's decision, the members also called upon the Senior Counsel Bar to intervene and advise the president on how to lead the LSK Council.

While accusing him of being disrespectful, the members said he walked out during a meeting alleging that he was going to write the judgment (on Ms Wambua's removal) alone.

Ms Wambua was facing 17 charges of gross misconduct and incompetence. During the meeting, nine of the 13 Council members voted against Ms Wambua's removal from office. They said Mr Havi does not have powers to veto the decision taken by a majority of the members.

Official spokesperson

"The majority of the council members found that the allegations leveled against the CEO did not amount to gross misconduct or incompetence," said members Roseline Odede, George Omwansa, Carolyne Mutheu, Faith Odhiambo, Aluso Ingati and Ndinda Kinyili. Others were Bernard Ngetich, Riziki Emukule and Beth Michoma.

Ms Odhiambo said the CEO, who had been placed on suspension on September 15 awaiting the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings, resumed work yesterday after a majority of members found no merit in the accusations.

"Our plea is just people learn to accept the outcomes of legal processes. The president walked out when he realised he did not have the numbers to terminate the CEO's contract and then released his personal statement even before the council concluded its sitting," said Ms Odhiambo.

In his 53-page judgment, Mr Havi indicated that nine of the council members had found Ms Wambua liable on some of the 17 charges.

He also hit out at some of the council members who had chosen to write their own decision. "It must be understood that the president is the official spokesperson of the Society and the Council, and that all decisions of the Society and the Council must be communicated only through the president," said Mr Havi.

Ms Wambua was accused of failing to keep proper records of the society, failure to avail true and accurate minutes of previous council meetings and failure to ensure implementation of the council resolutions.

Disciplinary proceedings

Other charges involved failure to provide the president and the vice president with certified bank statements of LSK and failure to submit employment contracts of all staff.

She has worked with LSK for the last eight years and her contract is scheduled to end on March 1, 2022.

She was appointed as the LSK acting CEO in January 2016 following the exit of Apollo Mboya.

During the disciplinary proceedings, Ms Wambua had indicated that she had not been furnished with minutes that she was accused of failing to accurately prepare, and that the charges were not framed with precision to enable a response.

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