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Mary Wambui aside, Uhuru Kenyatta recycles old guard

Tuesday October 15 2019

Moody Awori, Esther Murugi, Francis Muthaura, and Mary Wambui.

Moody Awori, Esther Murugi, Francis Muthaura, and Mary Wambui. They are among those who were handed government jobs after retiring. PHOTOS | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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Kenyans, especially the youth, have expressed displeasure with the appointment of former Othaya MP Mary Wambui to head the National Authority Employment Authority.

Ms Wambui, the woman who thrust herself into the limelight after claiming she was President Mwai Kibaki’s wife, was handed the big job by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

But this is not the first time President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration is appointing retirees and perceived ‘old people’ to take charge of critical state agencies.

On Monday, Mr Kenyatta appointed Jeremiah Matagaro to the public service, raising questions about Jubilee administration’s knack for retired persons at the expense of youths in State appointments.

Mr Matagaro will chair the State Corporations Advisory Committee for a three-year period, an appointment many consider as a slap in the face to the youth.

Cyrus Gituai, who served as Internal Security PS in the first Kibaki administration, also makes a comeback to the public service. Mr Gituai has also served as a district commissioner.

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But the return of the old guard in Kenyatta’s administration is hardly surprising as the trend has been there for all to see.

OLD GUARD

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua is 68, well over the mandatory retirement age of 60.

The same goes for former Vice President Moody Awori, the man well into his 90s, chairs the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.

President Kenyatta also picked Stephen Karogo to chair the Public Service Commission, even though at the point of his nomination, he was slightly over 60 years.

MPs vetting him for the position questioned his ability to adequately serve given that he has hit the mandatory retirement age of 60 years for the Civil Service.

“Do not focus on my age, rather at the wealth of experience I bring on the table in this new role,” he told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security.

Retired General of the Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi chairs the NSSF Board after his retirement from the military, while 72-year-old Francis Muthaura is in charge at Kenya Revenue Authority.

Just last week, the National Assembly approved Esther Murugi to sit in the National Lands Commission, even though she is 66.

Back to Mr Matagaro, he is not exactly young. He was the police spokesman during the troubled times of agitation for political pluralism in 1990 to 1993.

He would later rise to become North Eastern provincial police commander in the mid 1990s.

When President Mwai Kibaki took over, he appointed him PS in the Ministry of Justice under Kiraitu Murungi before he was controversially appointed to the Electoral Commission of Kenya in total defiance of the 1997 Inter Political Parties agreements.

Mr Matagaro was among ECK commissioners who were sent packing after a probe by an international commission established that they had bungled the presidential election.

RETIREMENT AGE REVIEW

In a bid to stop recycling and re-appointment of senior citizens to the public service, Starehe MP Charles Njagua has filed a motion in the National Assembly.

The youthful city MP is seeking to reduce the retirement age to 50 from the current 60.

He says his motion will help address the high unemployment rate among the youth.

"Noting the mandatory retirement age for public servants is set at 60 years, this House urges the government to review mandatory retirement age in public service from current 60 to 50 years," reads the motion.

Documents presented to parliament by the Public Service Commission (PSC) detailing the breakdown of civil servants by age cluster revealed that at least 11,879 civil servants were aged between 51 and 60 years.

A further 12,057 civil servants were aged between 56 and 60 years, while there were about 399 civil servants who had attained the age of 60 years or above.