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PUBLIC SERVANTS BACK TO NYAYO ERA, FORCED TO

Civil servants asked to give refugee cash

Story by KENNETH OGOSIA and JILLO KADIDA
Publication Date: 5/15/2008

Public servants have received letters asking them to contribute to the fund launched recently to help resettle internal refugees.

Deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta presents his contribution to President Kibaki during a public fund-raising in aid of resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons at KICC, Nairobi yesterday. With him are special programmes minister Dr Naomi Shaban and national humanitarian fund chairman Rtd Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’ Nzeki. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL.

Public Service head Francis Muthaura has written to all permanent secretaries asking them to seek contributions from staff towards the fund which targets Sh30 billion to help victims of the post-election violence.

In turn, PSs and other accounting officers have written to all departmental, divisional and section heads to request for contributions from all public officers.

In some cases the letters specify the amount different grades of officers should pay.

Judges, for example are being asked to contribute a minimum of Sh5,000 each towards the fund, while magistrates will pay between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000.

Paralegal staff are expected to part with Sh1,000 while other Judiciary employees like cooks and cleaners are asked to pay Sh500 each.

The letter to Judiciary staff is dated May 12, the same day President Kibaki launched the scheme and is signed by the Acting Registrar, Mrs Lidya Achode.

The exercise is a reminder of the practice which was prevalent during former President Daniel arap Moi’s rule when civil servants and employees of parastatals were made to contribute to all manner of funds.

At the time, representatives of NGOs and political activists complained about alleged forced donations by civil servants.

The function hosted by President at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Monday has already raised eyebrows because it flouted provisions of the Public Officer Ethics Act which bars officers from participating in such funds drives or using their positions to raise harambee money.

On Wednesday, the PS for Public Service, Mr Titus Ndambuki said: “These are voluntary contributions depending in the nature of distress. Civil servants are being asked to assist and no deductions will be made from their salaries to make it compulsory.”

Mr Ndambuki added: “That does not therefore break the law and those who will not be able to donate are not under any obligation to pay. But they are sympathetically deemed to be human beings and know the state of IDPs.”

But the civil servants union condemned the donations terming the move a breach of the Public Officer Ethics Act.

The union’s acting secretary general Tom Odege said: “That is introducing corruption by compassion and in itself a breach of the law because the MPs should have foreseen circumstances beyond human control, and created a caveat to cushion civil servants.”

Mr Odege said: “If any of the civil servants went to court the process would be reversed. Any normal human being would not ordinarily refuse to assist but the salaries of the civil servants cannot be enough to even sustain them for a month let alone donate to a person in distress.”

According to a circular sent to all Judiciary staff, the institution is expected to raise more than Sh3.6 million towards the resettlement of those who were displaced from their homes following the violence.

The circular which was obtained by the nation says the donations should be submitted to the registrar’s office starting from May 12 to May 26.

Some of the judges and magistrates who talked to Nation in anonymity said it is wrong to force anyone to contribute money to any funds drive. They said it ought to be done voluntarily.

Attached to the circular is a letter Mr Muthaura inviting the registrar to the launch of the public fund raising which was chaired by President Kibaki.

He says the purpose of the invite is to request the staff to make contribution to the humanitarian effort. It also indicates that the donations should be made to the national humanitarian fund under the ministry of state for special programmes.

The resettlement programme is estimated to cost almost Sh30 billion.

Mr Muthaura said the government has been able to factor Sh1 billion in the current financial year.

The public fund which was spearheaded by President Kibaki raised Sh457 million. The money is meant to help families affected by post-election violence to resettle. The violence, which followed the disputed presidential election, left more than 1,000 people dead and 350,000 displaced.

The funds drive which was launched at Kenyatta International Conference Centre was attended by Cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and chief executive officers of various parastatals. President Kibaki pledged a donation of Sh5 million towards the resettlement kitty as his personal contribution.

Agriculture ministry, led by Mr William Ruto, topped the list of donors with Sh298 million, money contributed by members of staff and parastatals under it. The newly created office of the Prime Minister donated Sh500,000 with a pledge to give more.

The Office of the Vice-President donated Sh512,700. The Ministry of Energy led by Mr Kiraitu Murungi, donated Sh14.8 million. Other contributors were Ministry of Medical Services (Sh6.6 million), Office of the President (Sh6.3 million) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sh4.6 million.

The Ministry of Trade, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, and the Ministry of Local Government, led by Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi, donated Sh1.3 million each. The government of Algeria donated Sh30 million, while China gave Sh1.38 million.

The money will be used for building new houses, replace household effects as well as rehabilitate community utilities and institutions destroyed in the violence.

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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