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NHIF boss sued over staff promotions

Monday, February 28th, 2022 00:02 | By
National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Officer Peter Kamunyo. PD/file

A petitioner wants the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Chief Executive Officer Peter Kamunyo removed from office for allegedly promoting corruption and other irregularities in the organisation.

Kamunyo is accused in the petition of among other things, embezzling funds, backdating of salaries and making irregular appointments and transfers of members of staff without following due procedure.

The application has been filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court by the Nubians Rights Forum, a civil society organisation.

Inevitable crisis

The petition has been sworn by Shafi Ali Hussein, the executive director of the Nubians Rights Forum.

Kamunyo has also been accused of abusing his office by allegedly directly discriminating against well-deserving and hardworking members of staff.

Hussein says in the petition filed through Okatch and Partners advocates that the Fund will face inevitable crisis if Kamunyo is not replaced.

“This matter is of extreme public interest because the issues complained of herein clearly contravene the Constitution and the law and are contrary to public policy,” the petitioner argues.

The petitioner wants the court to establish that Kamunyo’s actions were tantamount to abuse of office, misuse of public funds and usurping powers vested in the board of management of the NHIF.

Employee apathy

Hussein specifically wants the court to issue orders compelling Kamunyo to provide records including the minutes of the interviews that led to the promotion of the staff at the State agency in April 2021.

“The actions of Kamunyo are inimical to the proper service delivery and execution of the very sensitive mandate of NHIF to the public. The said actions have undermined hardworking staff as they have created employee demoralisation, frustration and general apathy,” the petitioner says.

NHIF, the petition states, made an internal advertisement for vacancies, which were open to all members of staff.

However, the advertisement was rescinded in March 2021 and employees were advised to proceed as if the advertisement was never made.

Kamunyo later made 12 appointments in spite of the earlier notice rescinding the advertised vacancies, which the petition says are not only illegal but also undermine the public through misappropriation of public funds.

Hussein adds: “The appointments were done in secret and without following due procedure, with no board approval as required by the NHIF Act.”

Kamunyo is also accused of irregularly appointing individuals on permanent and pensionable terms for positions that are contractual as per the NHIF policy provisions and that attempts to settle the issue internally have been futile.

“Taxpayers’ money is being used for individual benefits for the unjust enrichment of a few individuals,” the petition reads.

Hussein notes that Dr Kamunyo had refused to be guided by the Constitution and the laid down procedures for internal promotions and instead had chosen to be guided by an “opaque, discriminative and unilateral discourse in the promotions.”

“He has directly infringed on the rights of the NHIF employees as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the right to legitimate expectation,” he says.

Orders sought

In pursuit of his case, the petitioner now wants the court to compel the NHIF boss to provide a list of the promotions that have been made to members of staff since he assumed office in 2020 and the date the said promotions took effect.

Hussein urges the court to issue orders staying the appointments of members of staff and promotions he made at the institution in April 2021 were effected without following due procedure.

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