Excerpt : The first ever ethnic audit of our civil service conducted by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission headed by Dr Kibunja only confirmed what we always knew – that resources in this country are shared out on political patronage.
The first ever ethnic audit of our civil service conducted by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission headed by Dr Kibunja only confirmed what we always knew – that resources in this country are shared out on political patronage. Period! The more political power you have, the more resources you shall have. Consequently, the two communities who had presidency occupy 40% of all the civil service jobs in the country. Add the three other communities who produced the VPs and they have 70% of all the jobs! Indeed, according to the report by the Commission, their share significantly exceeds their population proportion in the country, and even their political representation in Parliament.
When you extrapolate these findings into the other areas of governance, it is apparent that the same communities lead in relative economic wealth and education. Dr Kibunja’s report reveals that over twenty tribes in the country hold less than 1% of these public sector jobs. This explains why we always see Pokots, Turkanas, Mjikenda, Somalis and other minorities on the TV in appalling poverty and destitution. Even in the Ministry of Northern Kenya, ethnic communities living in that region have only a tiny proportion of the jobs.
Now we can appreciate why our political leaders fight tooth and nail to get to the State House. For those who have experienced it, the end justifies the means! The holders of these lofty offices lead in the ethnicisation of the public service. Over 45% of the employees in State House are from the President’s ethnic community, whilst almost 22% of jobs at the PM’s office are held by his kinsmen. It is not accidental, nor is it about merit. Just plain ethnic predisposition practiced by our leaders. Ministers appoint from their ethnic group, and all the others follow suit.
In the Kenyatta era, 31% of all the Permanent Secretaries (PS) were from his Kikuyu community. There was no Kalenjin PS during this time, not to mention many other smaller tribes. During Moi’s single party rule, his Kalenjin community had 22% of all the PSs, and this increased to 30% in the multi-party era of 1994-2001. During this period, the Kikuyu PSs were done to only 10%. The PSs who are the accounting officers in government departments are in charge of recruitments in the civil service.
Clearly, our policies were ethnicity-blind and created highly unequal society. I agree with Dr Kibunja that composition of the public service enhances inclusivity but more importantly provides the ‘basis for wealth creation’. Public policies that promote ethnic cleavages and attendant inequalities which are nurtured by ‘personality-based leadership’ he alluded to are likely to challenge national cohesion, inclusion and unity.
Our new constitution recognizes that proportionality cannot be achieved in public service if policies are not aligned or oriented towards it. It provides for recognition of ethnic diversity and regions in public appointments. The Commission, though toothless without prosecutorial powers, has legal mandate to enforce the new constitutional dispensation. Proportionality and redistributive policies must necessarily form part of our development agenda in order to succeed. The small tribes should be in decision making institutions or positions to effect such policies. If you are ‘far from the fields of power and the fields of accumulation’, you lose out!
It may be easier to correct ethnic inequalities in political institutions such as the Cabinet or the Parliament than in the civil service. Political pluralism and power sharing in political parties may make it necessary for inclusivity in such institutions.
Representative bureaucracy is an urgent reform we need to avoid possible ‘economic revolution’ by the have-nots in this country. Unlike in the ‘Animal Farm’ all Kenyans are equal, and ought to be equal. The leadership must remedy the situation to nip in the bud the growing resentment and disillusionment.