Published on March 29, 2008, 12:00 am
By Gakuu MathengeThe insinuations inherent in a series of media reports suggesting ODM and PNU should share senior civil service positions on 50-50 basis is bad talk.
Those pushing the agenda have listed and identified senior civil service positions. They even have ranks and names of current occupants – especially in the security agencies – they suggest should be sacked or retired. The move, they say, is long overdue since it is holding up the envisaged “sharing”.
Problem is, if it starts, no one says where the ‘sharing’ stops. After senior offices in Nairobi are shared out, it will continue to the provinces, districts, divisions, locations until the sharing – whatever that means – is complete.
In the process, politicians, their youth wingers, councillors, drivers and goons will be looking for jobs for their jobless girlfriends, mistresses, wives, children and relatives in the name of ‘sharing’.
The civil service code of regulations defines civil servants as employees of the Public Service Commission.
While majority Kenyans are definitely not familiar with the nuts and bolts of the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement, including the 50-50 power sharing deal signed between President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate, Raila Odinga, I doubt there are many of us willing to entrust management of public offices and national institutions to party youth wingers.
Red lights should flash at the suggestion that party membership and affiliation should be the top qualifying or “the added advantage” consideration in the recruitment and the appointment of the Chief of General Staff, his service commanders, police commissioner or even parastatal heads among others.
Political parties are in the business of competing to capture and keep political power.
Integrity and stabilityHowever, norms and values that sustain the society they seek to rule should never be compromised. The integrity and stability of the civil service is among the norms and national values Kenyans have laboured hard and continue to build since the days of the legendary Mulu Mutisya-type of civil servants, to the recent incorporation of performance contracts.
This makes the “us and them” talk and the notions of 50-50 ‘sharing’ sound not only ludicrous, but also repugnant if extended along the lines being suggested by those itching to fill positions.
The suggestion is alarming and a cause for worry for civil servants now. Those itching to hound others out of office should also await the same fate when another bunch of politicians comes to town after five years.
Curiously, the Union of Kenya Civil Servants is quiet on the issue.
The implementation of the agreement and actualisation of the Grand Coalition Government is a national priority.
However, it should not set a precedent for meddling with the civil service.
In any case, any political deals entered between ODM and PNU, like all political entities, are transient and only last the life of the current Parliament.
The life of civil service, its traditions, values and norms last longer. It should be therefore predictable, stable and able to inspire confidence in all of us. Its service should be taxpayers, the not political parties, and us.
Indeed, any attempt towards this direction-either planned or even slightly implied- including any clause in the ongoing political deal making should be subjected to searing scrutiny and debate.
A key plank of the ongoing political deal making is the need for constitutional, legal and policy reforms aimed at, among others things, strengthening national institutions.
–The writer is a senior political writer with the Standard.a