Succession battle erupts at Portland cement in Athi River as MD is set to retire

East African Portland Cement Ltd chief executive officer, Mr Kepha Tande.
By JAMES THEURI
newsdesk@dailyreporter.co.ke
A succession battle has erupted at the East African Portland Cement Ltd over the expiry of the contract of the current chief executive officer, Mr Kepha Tande.
Mr Tande has served two terms and he is supposed to proceed on retirement in line with the EACC board charter but he is said to be seeking an extension of his tenure at the company.
The recent resignation of, Mr Albert Segei, the then chief operating officer (COO) who was the acting CEO while Mr Tande was away on leave has sparked protests from the Kenya Chemical and Allied Workers Union which alleges he was victimised.
The workers union wrote to the EAPCC board recently to protest against Mr Segei’s resignation which has been linked to the succession wars at the cement company.
The letter signed by the union’s shop stewards says in part: “Reference is hereby made to the MD’s invitation letter dated 09/05/2016 to EAPCC factory union officials.”
The letter adds that workers had “learned with deep concerns and shock” the resignation of Mr Segei who in the short period he was the acting MD they say had managed to turn-around production and performance at the cement company.
The union officials raised suspicions over his resignation saying he not only managed to streamline management processes but also enhanced revenue streams for the short period he was the acting MD.
However, some of the EAPPC employees have linked Mr Segei’s departure to the impending retirement of Mr Tande who has however applied for an extension of his tenure.
But the workers who are opposed to the extension of Mr Tande’s contract say, such a move would be against the EAPCC board charter.
“The EAPCC board charter is clear that the appointment, removal and recruitment of a CEO are a role and function of the board of directors but we have been told outside forces want to interfere with this process,” an employee who did want to be named said.
He said the EAPCC charter clearly started that the authority to appoint, remove and recruit a CEO rests with the board of directors, as does succession plan of an outgoing CEO.
He added that on the term limit for a Board member, the tenure shall not exceed a cumulative term of six years-two terms of three years.
The EAPCC board charter states “the CEO shall be subject to the same provisions as to removal as the other directors of the company, and if he cease to hold the office of director he shall, ipso facto and immediately, cease to be a managing director in accordance with the employment terms of the contract,” he said.
The employee said Mr Tande has served two terms of three years each and he had attained the retirement age of 60 years but he had applied for the extension of his contract by another three years.
“This is against the EACC charter because Mr Tande was to apply for the extension of his contract before he attained 60 years but he is doing so when he is supposed to be proceeding on retirement,” the employee added.
I hope this information helps in confirming that the Board is well within its mandate.  If you still require the company board charter I can forward this under confidential cover as it is not a public document.
However, battles over control of the Athi River-based East African Portland Cement Ltd that French conglomerate, Lafarge is the majority shareholder are not new.
During the tenure of President Mwai Kibaki the then Industrialisation minister Amason Kingi who is now the Kilifi governor suspended the whole board of the company, citing allegations of procurement irregularities.
Former Industrialisation permanent secretary, Karanja Kibicho, also quickly weighed in by sending home Mr Tande.
All these actions were however thwarted by the High Court.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was also to get be involved in wrangles at EAPCC when he removed the chairman of the company, Mr Mark ole Karbolo, but his decision was also nullified by the court.

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