The renewed controversy over the constitution of members at the communication regulator’s board has been ignited by a new advertisement by the commission for willing persons to apply as consumer representatives.
The lobby group argues it was unfair for the Ministry of Information and Communication to overlook already registered organisations while posting the advertisement, as the decision to have a consumer representative was reached after it filed a case objecting to the ministry’s earlier appointments.
Presiding Judge David Majanja on January 28 allowed the two parties to come to an agreement before the case is resumed on March 14, while at the same time urging the minister to reconstitute the CCK board.
According to COFEK secretary general Stephen Mutoro, the advert is against the expectations of the consumer organisation and it will therefore proceed with the case.
“The advert is, in our view, a nullity and doesn't constitute the expectations of the case in Court. COFEK will, therefore, proceed with the case to full determination,” Mutoro said.
COFEK has advised members of the public to ignore the advertisement, calling it a“manifestation of impunity and arrogance against consumer rights”. It said the appointment and recruitment process remains purely a function of the minister and not of the permanent secretary.
The last statement will however raise eyebrows given the constant fights between the organisation and the ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo over the switch-off of analogue TV signals.
The lobby group accuses Ndemo of sidelining them in the advert by including the words “especially in the information and communications technology sector”, instead of what COFEK says should be “knowledge or experience in consumer protection matters”.
However, it is the feeling from various quarters that COFEK might have expected the seat to be given to them, which would have been a violation of the same law the group is seeking to promote, which calls for competitive advertising when filling board positions.
For now, it seems certain the two groups will be headed to court.