Friday, March 14, 2008


Kenyans, lets all join hands and say -enough already!... with the likes of Muthauras, Mutuas, Michukis, Karuas-(even though she's tried very hard to tone down her hardliner position for the last three days), Thuos, Muhohos, Kilonzos, Kimunyas, Wetangulas among others. Apparently it hasn't dawned on them that it's not going to be business as usual again in Kenya-never!.....


By Emeka-Mayaka Gekara.....

The public service is the fulcrum on which government development programmes revolve. But given the recent election-related violence, the poisoned ethnic atmosphere and a torn national fabric, Kenya now requires a creative, clean and representative civil service to pull it from the brink. To achieve this goal, it must enjoy the goodwill of all Kenyans more than ever before.

Since independence, the ruling elite has been using patronage to reward cronies with positions in the public service, provincial administration and parastatals.

Presidents Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki have all used the positions to pay back for the loyalty of their people. These include positions of permanent secretaries, provincial and district commissioners, State corporation chairmen and envoys.

Communities whose elites dominate government echelons reap a chunk of public service posts through a trickle down effect. Conversely, communities that are not represented feel marginalized, thereby causing ethnic resentment.

This discontent was partly to blame for the collapse of Narc, the coalition which won the 2002 election. The coalition collapsed after some ethnic groups felt short-changed in the allocation of positions in the public sector on the basis of the infamous MoU.

Central Kenya where President Kibaki comes from, was perceived to have received key posts in both the Cabinet and civil service.

According University of Nairobi political scientist Karuti Kanyinga who has carried research on governance institutions and inequalities in Kenya, it is through ethnicity that elites fence off those likely to oppose those competing against them.

“An inequality in the ethnic composition of influential positions therefore derives from conscious and deliberate efforts of the governing elite. Elites from ethnic groups associated with opposition groups are locked out of influential positions to ensure a structured form of inequalities and therefore a structured form of political domination.”

The civil service, by its very composition, played both a divisive and unifying role.

While some villages harvested more than two slots of permanent secretaries and a host of high commissioners and judges, some constituencies felt left out.

While one womb was rewarded with two posts of PS, thousands others in some parts of the country got not even a DO.

Those rewarded with the posts rallied around the President while the other group tilted away disenchanted. No wonder, the Narc coalition split within three years.

The Annan peace accord signed on February 28 has highlighted the mistake and argued a potent case for national unity which should be reflected at all levels of government — from the village chief to the President. If the late Kijana Wamalwa was to resurrect and attend a PNU/ODM Cabinet, he’ll only probably be concerned about the absence of Moody Awori and his North Rift neighbour Kipruto Kirwa.

At the sight of William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta, he will think the politicians crossed over and joined Narc because the peace agreement has reassembled the original Narc and added Kanu to the mix for good measure.

It should not be split again.

But if history is anything to go by, the sharing of power should go beyond the Cabinet to other spheres of government, including the civil service. In fact, real sharing of government is the heartbeat of the Annan Accord.

Equitable distribution of key positions along regional lines should help foster a sense of inclusion and redistribution of resources at the top.

If the system does not work, the alternative would be to weed out the key civil servants standing in the way of reforms and replace them with those who will oil the wheels of change.

Like President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, professionals across the political divide should team up as patriots in the public service to implement the coalition manifesto.

A young, competent and energized public sector picked on merit and which represents the face of country’s diversity will also boost a sense of national ownership of the shared government.

New dispensation

Besides, a public sector for the coalition must resonate and be fully reconciled with the new dispensation for it to implement the agenda of the parties and their leaders.

It is futile to have a Cabinet which represents the face of the alliance whose policies are implemented by a public service skewed in favour of one of the parties.

That is why, for instance, a number of us expect a new spokesman, probably woman, for the grand alliance.

Secondly, top civil servants, especially permanent secretaries, high commissioners and provincial administrators, play a significant political role because they are used to facilitate control and execution of power. This is why both PNU and ODM will need to have representation in them.

According to Prof Kanyinga, whenever governments change, “incoming elites feel insecure to govern using a framework they have little control of.”

This explains why Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura’s comments on the power-sharing agreement attracted the rough edge of the ODM tongue.

In his interpretation of the deal, Mr Muthaura said the civil service will not be subject to the power-sharing deal.

He also said that appointments to the public service, parastatals and other constitutional bodies were not subject to the agreement.

According to him, such appointees were expected to serve all Kenyans equally and their jobs could not be politicised.

Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo, who appears to be positioning himself for a key role in the alliance, supported Mr Muthaura saying he was executing the administrative part of the deal. But ODM reckons that the Secretary to the Cabinet was unqualified to interpret the agreement.

Out of tune

Mr Muthaura’s views projected him as the voice of a clique which has not learnt from history and is largely out of tune with the reality on the ground.

It is also curious that his sentiments were captured in a mysterious document circulated to MPs earlier this week.

Secondly, it portrayed him as the face of a frightened section of senior civil servants fighting to retain their jobs.

For real power-sharing, a shake-up of the service is inevitable.

Kenyans expect the typewriter generation of civil servants – of which Mr Muthaura is prominent member – to give way to new blood. Nobody had better advice for the Muthaura than former Knut chairman Joseph Chirchir.

Reacting to what he termed as the Head of Public Service’s “unfortunate remarks”, the retired unionist said: “Muthaura has outlived his usefulness in the civil service and should step aside for young people.”

No comments: