President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration has attracted public outrage with its latest appointments to key parastatals, and for good reason.
The public is incensed that, contrary to all pledges of fairness, equity, merit and diversity, the government is obsessed with recycling old guards to positions that they are not only least qualified for but really do not deserve. They do not have the skills, aptitude and comportment for the jobs.
Yet the deserving and highly qualified young people are left to rot out there. It is an unfair system that must be brought to an end.
This week, Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani appointed Ms Mary Wambui, a former Othaya MP, the chairperson of the National Employment Authority, sparking public hostility. In the same gazette notice, President Kenyatta appointed nine individuals to the State Corporations Advisory Committee. Mr Jeremiah Matagaro, a long-time retired civil servant, was appointed chairperson.
Despite his illustrious civil service career, however, his best is in the past.
The appointments follow a pattern that has now come to define the Jubilee administration’s modus operandi, where cronies and elderly people are rewarded to the chagrin of the youth, a majority of whom suffer joblessness despite solid academic credentials.
A few examples illustrate this howler. A fortnight ago, President Kenyatta appointed Esther Murugi, 66, as a member of the National Land Commission.
In December, he had appointed former vice-president Moody Awori as a member of the National Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund Board.
Earlier, he had named Mr Francis Muthaura, a former Head of Civil Service, as chairperson of the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The list of geriatrics in the Jubilee government is long. The public’s concerns are as follows: One, most of the old people appointed to key positions are not qualified for them. Two, the government is promoting favouritism and mediocrity in public service and the consequence is poor delivery.
Three, the government is breaching the law by failing to follow the principles of diversity, meritocracy and fairness in public appointments.
During his presidential campaign in 2013, Mr Kenyatta then styled himself as a poster picture of youth empowerment. Now, he is the exact opposite. What has changed?
The President has to listen to Kenyans and stop this bungling that is stirring public rage and is bound to create social unrest.
He should revoke the appointments. For those given jobs that they do not deserve, the honourable thing to do is quit.
We are reminded of the living statement by former South African president Nelson Mandela that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.