The Commission on Administrative Justice, Ombudsman, has asked the President to remove from office Lands Principal Secretary, Arch. Mariamu el Maawy.

The Ombudsman says this is on grounds of prejudicial and improper conduct through inaction, unresponsiveness, inefficiency and ineptitude.

In a statement, the commission said

“The Commission has noted with concern that the Principal Secretary has failed in her ultimate role as the Accounting Officer of the Ministry, and has failed to satisfy a constitutional requirement under Article 232(1) of the Constitution on values and principles of public service.”

The statement continues,

“Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development remains one of the public institutions complained about: in 2014, the Commission handled a total of 86,905 complaints, of which 7.63 percent were against the Ministry; while the complaints against it in 2013 stood at 9.73 percent of 18,257 complaints handled in the year.”

The complaints relate to a number of service issues ranging from delay and inefficiency in service delivery, unlawful official conduct to abuse of power, unresponsiveness and inaction at the Ministry, unlawful official conduct to abuse of power. The Commission has encountered difficulties in resolving the complaints as most of the inquiries to the Ministry go unanswered or take inordinately long to be addressed.

“In respect of the Ministry the Commission has always made inquiries to the Principal Secretary or copies her in such correspondence as the Accounting Officer, and in some cases served her in person. However, the Principal Secretary has persistently failed to respond to the inquiries or resolve the complaints,” the statement adds.

In an effort to address this challenge, the Commission held a meeting with the Principal Secretary on 23rd May 2014, where she acknowledged unresponsiveness on the part of the Ministry and undertook to ensure responsiveness on inquiries by the Commission. In spite of the foregoing, the state of responsiveness by the Ministry has, allegedly, not improved.

The commission stated that the action and conduct of the Principal Secretary has affected the turnaround time for resolution of complaints thereby prolonging the suffering of the complainants, public sector reforms that seek to improve service delivery as well as have a bearing on the area of Land Reform

From the aforementioned,

the Ministry impinges on the constitutional values and principles on leadership and integrity, and service delivery as well as other relevant laws such as the Commission on Administrative Justice Act, Leadership and Integrity Act, Fair Administrative Action Act and the Public Service (Values and Principles) Act.

The ombudsman has given a summary of 165 cases representing the long pending complaints the Ministry is yet to respond to, and a copy of a letter to the CS, Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, notifying him of the action by the Commission.

The Constitution grants the President powers to dismiss any Principal Officer directly or through recommendations by Parliament. Since this is a request from a constitutional commission to the President, it is unclear whether the call will be heeded considering that new Principal and Cabinet Secretaries were sworn in less than a fortnight ago.