Mwarania battles to ‘stay home’ at Kenya Re
Filings in court paint a picture of long-running tussles between the two parties, and which only came to the fore this month.
When Jadiah Mwarania was handed a second five-year contract as chief executive of Kenya Reinsurance #ticker:KNRE in April 2016, he had the reason to believe in his capability. After all business numbers looked good, well into the second-half of 2017 where the corporation posted a net profit of Sh1.6 billion compared to Sh1.56 billion the previous year. Besides, his confidence was buoyed by the fact that his predecessor, Eunice Mbogo, only served for a single three-year contract after the board decided to let her go.
He dreamed of steering the State corporation to greater heights through his second term that was meant to end in April 2021.But as fate would have it, Mr Mwarania now finds himself in a hard battle to keep his job after the Kenya-Re board opted to terminate his services and temporarily replace him with Michael Mbeshi, the reinsurer’s property management general manager.
“I reported to work as usual and was told to leave by the chairman of the board,” Mr Mwarania said in an interview on March 13, just a day after his departure was announced by Kenya Re through the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).“I am shocked. I have not been formally served with a termination letter or told why I have been asked to leave.”Mr Mwarania last week moved to court in an attempt to continue his stay at the Kenya-Re, a corporation in which he served for 28 years.Filings in court by both Mr Mwarania and Kenya-Re paint a picture of long-running tussles between the two parties, which only came to the fore this month.The Kenya-Re board and Mr Mwanaria have set the stage for a legal fight that is promising to be ‘tell it all’ dispute, with already some well-hidden secrets and letters marked as confidential forming part of the court documents.Mr Mwanaria links his woes to attempts to remove the corporation’s board chairman and two directors.He says his troubles started the moment he received a letter from Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua directing him to commence the removal of Mr Kemei and board members Maina Mukoma and Chiboli Shakaba.“I strongly believe that my compliance with the directive of the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service was the genesis of the perceived issues with some members of the board of directors of the respondent and in particular those who were due for retirement during the aforesaid AGM of June 16, 2017, as clearly demonstrated by sequence of events that followed,” says Mr Mwarania in an affidavit.Mr Kinyua in a confidential letter dated June 8, 2017, directed Mr Mwarania to prepare Michael Monari, Hilda Muchunku and Julius Koros for the election to be held during the AGM. They were to replace Mr Kemei, Mr Mukoma and Shakaba.READ: Kenya Re board chair says ex-CEO was sacked for non-performanceHowever, in his response Kenya-Re Board chairman David Kemei has refuted the claim arguing that the sacked managing director, Jadiah Mwarania, lost his job over non-performance. Mr Kemei in a response to Mr Mwarania’s suit challenging his removal from office claims that the firm’s performance in the past three years had deteriorated, forcing the board to intervene.The board says Mr Mwarania’s negligence allegedly led to the firm being downgraded from B+ to B in February 2018, which reduced it from stable rating to vulnerable.But even as the parties dig in, Justice Byrum Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court challenged Kenya-Re lawyer Chacha Odera to consider engaging Mr Mwarania’s lawyer in a bid to make the relationship and even resolution of the case less acrimonius.“Is your client not willing to compromise? After school he joined the company and this is a person who can say ‘I gave the best time of my life to the company.’ This is bound to be emotional and I propose you reason together,” the Judge told Mr Odera.The lawyers representing the two sides have promised to reach out to each other and seek an amicable settlement.Mr Mwarania’s ties with the Kenya-Re began way back in 1990 when he joined the State corporation as a management trainee before rising to become MD on April 12, 2011.
Prior to that he was general manager, reinsurance operations between April 11, 2010 and April 12, 2011.