Governors could be barred from hiring cronies after August election

Monday March 20 2017

IHRM executive director Dorcas Wainaina. FILE |

IHRM executive director Dorcas Wainaina. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Governors coming in after the August General Election could be barred from awarding lucrative jobs to unqualified cronies and relatives, managers have said.

Senior human resource managers working for State agencies and ministries said mistakes made in the past five years should not be allowed to recur.

The Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) Council chairman Elijah Sitima said the issue had been discussed at length with the Council of Governors where it was agreed that amendments be made to the Public Service Commission recruitment regulations barring hiring of unqualified people to senior positions in devolved units.

However, pundits are reading from a different script. They say that leaders the world over are at liberty to elect their “Kitchen Cabinet” from whosoever they wish to work with.

“You cannot dictate to a president or governor whom to work with at their offices. Many elected leaders create positions for relatives and cronies whom they refer to as legal, educational, communications and political advisors,” said observer Patrick Oluande.

The IHRM Council, said Mr Sitima, has held several meetings with the Council of Governors technical committee on human resource, labour and social welfare where the issue of unqualified, politically-correct people was discussed at length.

“We agreed to insert a clause barring hiring of people who lack academic papers to specific positions. After August 2017, no governor or group of leaders will quietly appoint people without academic qualifications to any office, as the law expressly bars them from doing so,” said Mr Sitima.

Speakers at a meeting last week identified governors’ offices as the hardest hit, where an array of high-earning advisors was hired on the whims of county bosses.

Several county public service boards are under scrutiny for creating non-existent positions, with some officials employing their spouses.
Recruitment process
They said political appointees end up swaying the recruitment processes, adversely affecting the ability of new employees to dispense services.

In the past, many devolved units have been accused of conducting recruitment drives that ignore the individual county’s ability to pay salaries.

The meeting convened to collect views from public sector HR practitioners, heard that the State agency should be empowered legally to oversee recruitment matters at national and county levels.

At the same time, IHRM executive director Dorcas Wainaina urged public sector HR managers to restore confidentiality to government documents, citing leaks witnessed in the past.

“While we appreciate Article 35 of the Constitution on the Right to Information, there is a need to have proper policies on access to government information. All board members of State corporations, civil servants and other public servants should make a fresh commitment to the Official Secrets Act,” she said.

Ms Wainaina’s stance will resonate well with government technocrats but has the potential to reverse gains made in the past years where government goings-on, especially on tenders, have been exposed, giving Kenyans first-hand information.

Cases in point include scandals at the Ministry of Health and the National Youth Service.

The meeting also called for elimination of non-existent jobs’ scams, where advertisements are placed for job applicants to pay interview fees, only to be swindled.