Treasury Department triggers removal of Kenya’s electric wheelchair ahead of AGM


Treasury Department triggers removal of Kenya’s electric wheelchair ahead of AGM

Kenya Power CEO Vivienne Yeda. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Power Chairwoman Vivienne Yeda will leave the utility after the Treasury Department decided not to support her re-election at the company’s annual general meeting scheduled for December 16.

Ms. Yeda, who was hired in November 2020 to lead Kenya Power’s turnaround, told investors she would be quitting on the day of the shareholders’ meeting.

Sources at the utility believe the new government was unhappy with its tenure at Kenya Power and its connections to top State House officials under the Uhuru government.

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Her departure will add to the instability in Kenya Power’s board and senior management that has resulted in directors resigning in rapid succession.

“We received a letter dated November 18 from the Treasury expressing the government’s desire to remove Vivienne as Kenya Power’s director,” said a senior Kenya Power official, who asked not to be identified. “Vivienne didn’t want to fight and withdrew.”

The Business Daily saw excerpts from the letter from the Ministry of Finance, which holds 51.01 per cent of the voting rights in Kenya Power, and requested a special notice on the agenda of the AGM calling for Ms Yeda’s dismissal.

Traditionally, a change in administration has often sparked tremors in semi-state circles as the president and ministers seek to exert their influence over state-run corporations previously used as centers of patronage by previous regimes.

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William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth President on September 13.

Ms. Yeda’s term was due to expire in November 2023.

“Ms. Vivienne Yeda has announced her resignation as Director effective as of the date of the AGM,” Kenya Power said in a public statement yesterday.

Ms. Yeda is also CEO of the East Africa Development Bank.

She joined Kenya Power in 2020 on a newly formed board tasked with restructuring the company and recovering the utility from losses.

In May, three directors – Elizabeth Rogo, Abdulrazaq Ali and Caroline Kittony-Waiyaki – appointed alongside Ms Yeda, resigned under unclear circumstances, leaving the utility with a shortage of independent board members.

The board departures came days after Kenya Power appointed a new acting chief executive, Geoffrey Waswa Muli, to replace Rosemary Oduor, who had served in the same capacity since August 2021.

The company said in the middle of this month Mr Muli would take over Ms Oduor immediately when she went on annual leave.

Ms. Oduor succeeded Bernard Ngugi, who also resigned last August.

Mr Ngugi became the fourth CEO in four years to leave the company amid a boardroom dispute that came months after the court dismissed a motion to remove him from previous procurement deals.

He had come under pressure from the board and shareholders for turnaround plans in the wake of a series of losses at the energy supplier. He resigned barely two years after being appointed to a three-year term.

Last year the Kenya Electrical Trades and Allied Workers Union (Ketawu) threatened to go on strike to press for the resignation of Ms Yeda and the three directors.

The strike threat came at a time when the anti-corruption watchdog had subpoenaed non-executive Kenya Power board members to include statements about procurement battles that had rocked that utility weeks after Mr Ngugi’s departure.

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A source for the company said the new board has taken an active role in management, including questioning sourcing decisions and abandoning management’s strategy of increasing tariffs, which officials believed would lift Kenya Power out of the red .

In July 2018, Kenya Power faced a crisis after its chief executive and several senior executives were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit economic crimes and abuse of office. They all denied the allegations.

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