A weigh of Merit, Loyalty and Competency in state Appointments

A weigh of Merit, Loyalty and Competency in state Appointments

By McCreadie Andias,

President Ruto’s Chief Administrative  Secretaries (CAS) nominees yesterday, apart from grabbing the media headlines in a buzz, also painted an open picture of the criteria that the current regime uses to select state appointments.


In the list, Ruto shocked the nation by appointing 50 CAS officers as compared to his predecessor’s 23, with familiar names of Ruto’s henchmen dominating. The biggest poll losers became the biggest winners and more of his Poll campaign strategists and even recent political defectors appearing on the list.


The nation is undoubtedly in a state of wonder, as to whether the ‘chief hustler’ played his cards right by awarding his loyal soldiers, and if at any point he considered the competency of his nominees.


Chief Administrative Secretaries are top government officials directly under the Cabinet Secretary and above the Principal Secretary. Their specific duties include responding to issues touching on the portfolio assigned to the office, providing inter-ministerial coordination, and representing their respective Cabinet Secretaries at meetings as instructed by ministers. These duties not only demands a rich experience in the ministry attached, but also high expertise to run a government executive office.


Looking into their experience, for instance, former Nairobi nominated Senator Millicent Omanga was appointed for the position of CAS of interior. The skepticism in her qualification for this seat is widespread. With most wondering how she can run a top and critical government ministry like Interior without ever serving in any office of internal affairs before? How much experience does she have in regard to the country’s internal security issues and what exactly will she bring into the docket?


All these questions would not only apply to Omanga’s appointment, but many more including CAS appointee for ministry of Foreign and Diaspora affairs, Catherine Waruguru, and appointee for ministry of Co-operatives and Micro, small and medium enterprises Bishop Margret Wanjiru who was once a one-term legislator representing Starehe constituency. Majority of her work and let’s say ‘experience’, has been at the altar.


In a rather uncertain surprise, some of the appointees or as many would call them, the ‘jackpot winners’ were the ones who recently defected from the opposition coalition to the Kenya Kwanza court, with the likes of Evans Kidero and Nicholas Gumbo who were allied to Azimio leader, Raila Odinga, landing appointments.


Putting loyalty aside, another tone of criticism arises on the transparency and discipline of these nominees. Some of the nominees are still loitering around court halls with graft charges hanging over them. A name like Evans Kidero, is not new in the graft headlines and equally not suitable enough for a ministry like Investments, Trade and Industry. Kidero has been previously linked with corruption scandals both in the public and private sector with his name linked with the Mumias graft saga and the embezzlement of funds during his tenure as Nairobi Governor. How safe are public funds with these appointees? And how accountable will they be in their respective offices? These questions will undoubtedly be answered by time.


While considering merit, losing elections in one way shows that the public has lost trust in the competency and leadership of these politicians. Seeing more poll losers in this list creates more questions on whether the will of the people has been factored in during the nominations.


Back to our main topic. ‘Did loyalty weigh heavier than competency?’. Yes!, at the end of the day Loyalty seemed to have won, and competency would follow afterwards. It is clear that Ruto made sure all his political loyalties were heavily rewarded in his government. Which other names did Kenyans expect apart from the likes of Dennis Itumbi (Ruto’s Campaign strategist), Benjamin Washiali an invaluable asset for Ruto’s western vote hunt, Wilson Sossion, Charles Kanyi Njagua, Chris Wamalwa, Kimani Ngunjiri, Joash Maangi, Millicent Omanga, Abdalla Mwasheetani and many more with many of these names not only being Ruto’s henchmen but also poll losers from his ‘wheelbarrow’ party.


Mutahi Nguyi put this clearly into perspective. In a recent interview, the renowned political analyst and a former technical assistant for President Uhuru Kenyatta said that politics thrive on loyalty.

Give it to Ruto. Like him or not, this man is Honorable. He has rewarded everyone that stood by him. The currency of politics is loyalty, not competence.” he said .


How much do you agree with Ngunyi? Does Ruto’s loyalty reward prove him as an honorable man, or a ‘selfish one’? The opposition will gladly go with Ruto as ‘a selfish man’ and they wouldn’t need any evidence to prove this, with his appointments speaking for them. Ruto might not be selfish for having fed all his children to the fill, but for ignoring the ones for the ‘man in the streets’, the ‘Wanjiku, the ‘mtu wa boda boda’, and the ‘mama mboga’ on whose back he ascended to Statehouse.


From all government nominations starting from CS positions all the way to CAS, you will struggle to spot more than 10 names affiliated to the ‘HANDSHAKE’ regime unless the individuals were politically neutral or were clever enough to defect.


Individuals who played the ‘humble cards’ like Simon Chelugui, Monica Juma and Dr.Belio Kipsang survived the purge with all the others beingswept away.


Going back to this interesting but controversial CAS trend, the reader must have agreed or almost agreed that indeed loyalty won the day. Now, remember we have 27 new CAS positions from  Uhuru Kenyatta’s 23. Here, there is a layer of questions. How much deeper will these extra positions dig into the already depressed taxpayers pocket? How sustainable are they and most importantly, how necessary are they?


Before we forget, Ruto, during the campaign period, had blasted Odinga and Kenyatta for plotting to increase government positions to fit their allies through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). How differently can we translate his 27 extra nominees from his campaign sentiments.


First things first, lets start with the cost question. With economic times being tough, you might be interested but shocked to know how much more your pocket will drain to remunerate the CAS positions every month, year and after 5 years.


The CASs are entitled to a monthly salary of Ksh. 765,138, a house allowance of Ksh.200,000 and Ksh. 100,000 entertainment allowance. This will see the taxpayer pay Ksh.53,256,900 for all the Chief Administrative Services per month. In one year, the CASs will cost the Kenyan people Ksh.693 million annually and Ksh.3,195 billion in five years.


The 5o CASs are also entitled to a Ksh. 10 million car grant which will cost the public Ksh.500 million and a mortgage of Ksh.35 million which will cost the taxpayer Ksh. 1.75 billion.


They are also provided with two high end vehicles, two secretaries, a driver and a personal assistant to aid them in their daily activities. Additionally, they will get an indefinite number of security detail assigned to protect them on and off duty, and will enjoy a generous Ksh. 10 million outpatient and Ksh. 3 million inpatient medical cover.


With the huge financial allocations to these positions, the financial burden will of course be borne by the taxpayer. Now, how necessary are these positions? This question again arises on the allocation of more than one CAS in all ministerial dockets excluding the ministry of Defense and state law firm. The Office of Deputy President and Office of Prime Cabinet Secretary had at least 3 nominees.


The taxpayer would question the necessity of remunerating two or three CASs in a ministry instead of one and why would the president decide to nominate two or three CAS within a ministry to do the same work?


All these questions could be left to parliament and similarly the fate of these ‘excess’ nominations. Parliament will now move into an assignment of vetting and approving the respective nominations.


In the meantime, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, while speaking to Mount Kenya region media stations has defended his superior’s ‘bloated’ Chief Administrative Secretaries list maintaining that they found a ruined economy and to improve it they require a big team, pushing the reason to appoint 50 CASs.


Gachagua said the main work of the CASs will be moving across the world searching for the markets as the CSs concentrate on their work.

This country has a lot of work reviving the economy and that is why the government needs a big team that will be dispersed across the world to look for markets for our products” Gachagua said.


On appointing politicians who were rejected by voters in the recent polls, Gachagua said they are the people who understood their bottom up economic model and cannot sabotage the government.


The Deputy President insisted that the Kenya Kwanza government will only work with people who believe in their agenda following his previous remarks that the government is like a company and shares (positions) are distributed amongst those who invested in it.


Gachagua also admitted that indeed the 50 CASs will be paid a lot of money in salaries and allowances increasing the burden to the taxpayer but defended that the CASs will have brought a lot of wealth from foreign markets in two years time.


Kenyans are now in scrutiny on ambassadorial and appointments of high commissioners and whether the president will play the same cards in his appointments.


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