Staff shake-up elicits hue and cry amid tribalism allegations

Wednesday November 21 2018

City Inspectorate Department

City Inspectorate Department officials Eva Wairuko and Peter Mbaya address traders at the country bus station on April 11. A staff reshuffle at the department has caused an uproar as the workers union and a section of MCAs allege ethnic favouritism in the raft of demotions and promotions. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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A shake-up of county staff has elicited a hue and cry at City Hall amid allegations of tribalism.

The executive has effected a raft of demotions and promotions at Nairobi City County Inspectorate Department, sparking off a raging storm within and outside the assembly.

IRREGULAR

The Nairobi City Workers Union, in a letter addressed to the Nairobi County Public Service Board (NCPSB), said the staff changes were irregular and unfair.

Weighing in on the debate, Pumwani Ward MCA Paul Ndung’u said some senior members of staff have been demoted to junior positions under unclear circumstances.

“I have facts including screenshots and I was not joking when I put the question before members at the county assembly,” said Mr Ndung’u appearing before the County Assembly Labour and Social Welfare committee on Tuesday.

Mugumoini MCA Jared Akama said that the staff changes should only be done fairly without seeming to victimize anyone based on their ethnic identity.

A list of senior officers that was published by the department revealed that only eight ethnic groups hold senior positions in the department, with the Kikuyus and Kalenjins dominating.

CRITERIA USED

The Kikuyus have a total of 14 senior officers, followed by Kalenjins at 6, Kisii’s at 5, Luos 3, Kamba, Luhya and Maasai with 2 officers each and Somali with a single officer.

In his request for a statement last month, Mr Ndung’u had requested for the committee to inquire into circumstances that led to the demotion and promotion of officers in the department, including those in an acting capacity, and the criteria used.

He also wanted a full list of all officers detailing their previous and current rankings and the measures the county executive is planning to take to ensure the right staff are deployed to the right offices.

But, appearing before the Committee chaired by MCA Peter Wanyoike on Tuesday, Nairobi chief officer for security compliance Mr Tito Kilonzi refuted the claims, saying that the ward representative might have misunderstood routine redeployment of senior staff to mean demotion.

“As far as we are concerned, none of our officers have been demoted to a junior position. We are aware that people have misinterpreted the redeployment of senior staff to mean demotion, which it isn't,” said Mr Kilonzi.

STAFF REALIGNMENTS

He added that staff realignments at City Hall were routine, normal and done in complete transparency with considerations made regarding academic qualifications, training, performance and experience among other criteria.

“It is only the county public service board that has the power to appoint a person to hold or act in the office of the county public service. On demotions, we are only likely to recommend such to the board in cases of gross misconduct as stipulated in the City Inspectorate Standing Orders,” he added.

His sentiments were echoed by Public Service Management (PSM) chief officer and Deputy County Secretary Leboo Morintat who said he was not aware of any senior officers who have been demoted to junior positions.

“County chief officers are responsible for human resource issues within their various sectors. They do this in consultation with PSM chief officer, office of county secretary and head of county public service. So far, the Public Service Management has not received any promotion from the Board for implementation,” added Mr Morintat.

INVESTIGATE

Board chief executive officer Meshack Guto, also appearing before the committee, said that the Board has not effected any promotions or demotions of county staff.

“The Board is in receipt of a copy of a letter from the union alleging irregular demotions and promotions in the inspectorate department. We will investigate the matter and take appropriate action,” said Mr Guto.

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