Joe Mucheru, the Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary, is on the spot after he re-appointed a dead man to occupy a top seat at Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB).
In a gazette notice dated October 16, Mr Mucheru picked the late Robert Kochalle, who died on May 28, 2018, as a board member of the state department run by self-styled moral policeman Ezekiel Mutua.
Until his death, the former Laisamis MP had had a successful career in public service, with his highest appointment being Tourism and Wildlife assistant minister.
But on Tuesday, Kochalle was re-appointed to help regulate the film industry in Kenya for three years alongside Gathoni Kung’u and Nereah Okanga.
According to Mr Mucheru, the dead man with no tales is supposed to take up his post and earn a salary from Monday, October 21.
Kochalle’s appointment exposes one of the routes ghost workers use to land on the public service payroll— poor vetting or just lack of it.
Ghost workers are a big headache to both national and county governments as President Kenyatta and governors struggle to slash the public wage bill that currently stands at over Sh700 billion.
Mr Mucheru’s gaffe also raises serious questions on the quality of background checks nominees are subjected to before they are appointed to run government department and agencies.
Ideally, gazette notices are supposed to go through several stages of approval— with selection committees and lawyers at KFCB and the ICT ministry, and editors at The Government Printer going through the names.
Mr Mucheru and his ministry have remained tight-lipped on the slip-up that has exposed the minister and his staff to online mockery.
But the appointment has also left Mr Mutua exposed to scrutiny considering that KCFB sponsored Kochalle’s death and funeral announcement in June 2018.
Following online outrage that greeted the gazette notice, the outspoken CEO on Thursday came out to explain the bogus appointment and defend his boss, Mr Mucheru.
Mr Mutua was at pains to explain how Kochalle’s name found itself in the Gazette Notice.
“Small issue being blown out of proportion,” he tweeted. “The board presented the notification to the ministry (of ICT) for replacement and inadvertently he was reappointed.”
According to the ‘moral policeman’, Mr Mucheru is innocent.
“It was not CS Mucheru's mistake at all as the conversation started when KFCB was under Ministry of Sports & Culture,” he added in the Twitter post.
But his explanations and defences have done little to stop angry Kenyans who are demanding answers.
“Small issue? It is a display of mediocrity in government offices,” said IreneNM#Tujadili @TuJadili.
@AmthePaul fired: “This cannot be small because the man is entitled to a salary, allowances and holds a public position, which had we not raised, would have passed. Wamlambez was small this is not.”
Some Kenyans are having a field day mocking the CS, KFCB and Mr Mutua.
“I think he has been appointed because he has qualification we all don't have. ‘He has experience in death’”, posted @callmejohnte
Other Kenyans online took time to reflect on the scourge of ghost workers.
@RRosheeroh replied saying “In Kenya the dead vote so they deserve the appointments.”
@BrianOkumba posted that “They work with minimum supervision.”