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NGOs board boss Fazul Mahamed out to silence State critics

To some Kenyans, he is the government’s hatchet man and seems to enjoy intemperate powers to silence perceived government critics.

Despite numerous public complaints against NGOs Coordination Board executive director Fazul Mahamed, the Jubilee administration has continued to insulate him and use him to illegally intimidate and silence critics. 

Even when Mr Mahamed fell out with Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government quickly adopted him, notwithstanding the questions the Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman) had  raised in November 2016 concerning his academic credentials.

According to the Ombudsman’s report, Mr Mahamed was found to have been “hired on the basis of a false degree certificate purported to have been acquired from Egerton University”.

“Investigations confirmed that Mr Mahamed was discontinued by the University Senate on August 26, 2010, on academic grounds, while in his third year, that is, before he graduated, and, hence, does not hold the Bsc Biochemistry degree from Egerton University,” the Ombudsman stated in the report titled Death of Integrity.

FILE AN APPEAL

Mr Mahamed got a reprieve in early August, when High Court judge George Odunga reviewed his earlier decision and suspended the implementation of the Ombudsman’s report to give the NGOs board boss time to file an appeal. Mr Mahamed was given 30 days within which to file the appeal.

In the Ombudsman’s report, Mr Mahamed was also accused of victimising and intimidating staff of the board, irregular promotions and transfer of workers, mismanagement of public funds and flawed procurement.

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“The commission found Mr Mahamed culpable of abuse of power in the irregular promotion of staff without seeking approval from the Board of Directors and acting unilaterally in utter disregard of HR policies.

In the case at hand, Ms Joyce Naisiala rose through managerial ranks to become the deputy executive director of the board within a short span of time. (In addition,) the NGOs Coordination Board has systemic issues regarding employment and human resource management,” the Ombudsman stated in the report.

CIVIL SOCIETY

Nonetheless, Mr Mahamed has been the go-to man whenever the Jubilee administration feels threatened by any civil society organisation.

He has mostly been used to intimidate the Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation; Key Empowerment Foundation Kenya, which is linked to the daughter of National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga, Rosemary; the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC); and Africa Centre for Open Governance; among many others.

A careful look at the profiles of the organisations Mr Mahamed has directed closed or whose assets have been frozen on his orders reveals that they are either directly or indirectly linked to opposition figures, or were perceived to have played a key role in the International Criminal Court cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

“The logical conclusion, therefore, is that this is an act of intimidation and attempt to shrink civic space rather than enforcement of the law. The brazen nature of this attempt also calls to question whether this errant public officer enjoys political support to undertake such abuse of office,” the KHRC board and management said in a statement issued yesterday following Mr Mahamed’s latest onslaught on them.

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