Gachagua, Cabinet Secretaries hired 250 personal staff – report

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and the 22 Cabinet Secretaries(CSs) hired 250 personal staff in the financial year ended June 2023, adding to the many jobs that have been dished out by public officers on a non-competitive basis.

The latest report by the Public Service Commission (PSC) said that the 250 were hired as either personal staff or advisors as Mr Gachagua and the CSs settled in office after the 2023 General Elections.

Non-competitive recruitment means that the 250 recruits were handpicked as opposed to a fair appointment process where vacancies are publicly advertised and qualified individuals invited to apply for selection on merit.

“Part of the reasons given for the non-competitive appointments included the appointment of personal staff of the Deputy President and advisors to Cabinet Secretaries, which are normally not competitive, hence should not be part of the inclusion in non-competitive appointments,” said the PSC.

The Constitution requires that fair competition and merit shall be the basis of all appointments and promotions in the public service. The only exception as provided under Section 10 of the Values and Principles Act, 2015 is where one gender, an ethnic community or persons with disability are under-represented relative to the national population size. In such instances, an authorized officer is exempted from unduly relying on competition to make appointments or promotions.

This came in the period the Commission also said 47 state entities had recruited a total of 1,443 employees on a non-competitive basis.

Treasury in October last year increased the budget of Mr Gachagua’s office by Sh759.4 million to Sh4.29 billion citing the need for “enhancement of operations” and “refurbishment of the boardroom”. The increment was about Sh300 million more than the Sh4 billion allocated to the Office of the President.

The PSC has not given a breakdown of the number of staff that were specifically recruited under Mr Gachagua’s office and those who were hired by the 22 cabinet secretaries who were sworn in on October 27, 2022.

The non-competitive hiring came in the period PSC also disclosed State House had 483 employees who were on payroll but not captured in the staff register— a variance PSC said could create room for “unauthorised” recruitment of staff.

PSC said the highest number of officers recruited non-competitively were drawn from State Corporations and semi-autonomous government agencies (466), followed by Ministries and State Departments with 290 officers.

The non-competitively recruited officers were drawn from 27 ethnic groups, with Kalenjin, Kikuyu, and Luo leading with 21.8 percent, 19 percent, and 12.4 percent of the total jobs respectively, according to the PSC.

The main reasons given by organisations (excluding the office of Deputy President and cabinet secretaries) for the non-competitive appointments included the conversion of temporary appointments to permanent and pensionable terms (35 percent), and internal appointments (22.4 percent).

PSC said some of the non-competitive recruitment only served to increase the representation of some tribes in government as opposed to supporting groups such as people with disabilities (PWDs), women, and youth. PWDs for instance got 10 out of the 1,443 positions.

“The non-competitive appointments seemed to have compounded the problem of over [1] representation of some communities, which are already over-represented in the service,” said the PSC.

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