National Social Security Fund building in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

A Nairobi court has stopped the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) from recruiting new managers to oversee the pensioners’ fund.

Employment and Labour Relations Judge Jacob Gakeri ruled that the human resource guidelines and instruments being used by NSSF to hire the eight new managers are ineffective since they were not approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

“The Public Service Commission is the only body with constitutional authority to approve human resource instruments of State corporations and other State bodies. The NSSF Board of Trustees cannot, therefore, proceed to hire the managers without approval from PSC,” ruled Gakeri.

Justice Gakeri ruled that employees of State corporations are public officers who perform public service, are remunerated by money provided by parliament which belongs to the government, and have to be accountable in their recruitment process.

He directed NSSF Board of Trustees to present their human resource instruments to the PSC within 21 days for approval before they can commence recruitment of new managers.

The judge added that although NSSF had the mandate to originate its human resource instruments to guide the recruitment of managers, it did not comply with the constitution which requires it to submit the guidelines to PSC for consideration and approval.

“I find that NSSF Board of Trustees failed in their duty to uphold the rule of law and did not comply with the constitution in the preparation and approval of their human resource instruments. They cannot, therefore, proceed with the recruitment without necessary approval,” he ruled.

NSSF had in December last year advertised for the positions of general managers to oversee its operations but the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) moved to court to stop the recruitment on account that there were no legal procedures to guide the process.

Through lawyer Mr Henry Kurauka, Cofek argued that the vacancies were illegally announced by the NSSF chairperson without the approval of other board members, and without a financial budget to cater for their salaries.

Mr Kurauka told the court that retirees were at risk of losing their pensions should the recruitment proceed without proper guidelines on how they were to be remunerated from the pension fund.

According to the lawyer, the NSSF human resource guidelines were developed without the participation of key stakeholders including the workers’ unions and the consent of PSC.

He alleged that the recruitment manual was aimed at locking out senior employees of NSSF, who had given their best in place of outsiders. “The illegal human resource instrument was designed to lock out long-serving, honest and deserving employees from promotion and locking out qualified members of the public from applying for the positions,” Kurauka told the court.