By Oscar Obonyo
With a couple of days before civil servants eyeing elective positions formally quit, it is emerging some of those seeking senatorial and gubernatorial seats may be opting out for fear of being victims of administrative reorganisation.
Under the new dispensation, the Public Service Commission will advertise all key jobs, including those of permanent secretaries and vet applicants. Names of shortlisted candidates will then be handed over to the President, who will nominate and forward to Parliament for approval.
The scheduled reorganisation, which will involve public participation by way of scrutinising the candidates’ suitability, does not guarantee retention of current holders jobs.
This is thought to have persuaded some of the officers into shifting to political offices.
“Nobody knows the actual character of the administrative structure in the next Government. There will be standardisation, massive redeployment, downsizing, and even mergers of units and departments. Even more fearful is the fact that the appointing authority shall no longer be the President, but the Public Service Commission,” says Ndung’u Wainaina, executive director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict.
Presidential hopeful and former Education PS James ole Kiyiapi leads the pack of high profile Government technocrats seeking elective positions in the General Election.
Others are Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua, who is eyeing the governor’s seat in Machakos County, and Permanent Secretaries Kenneth Lusaka (Livestock Development), who is working towards being governor of Bungoma County, and John Lonyangapuo (Public Works), who will be challenging Information Minister Samuel Poghisio for the Senate in West Pokot County.
Owing to the devolved system of Government now being executed, power and authority will be decentralised to the 47 newly counties. Wainaina further says administrative structures, including at ministry level, will be overhauled with positions of permanent secretaries being scrapped and replaced with those of principal secretaries.
“The move by permanent secretaries, in particular, to shift to elective positions is cleverly thought out. They are doing so after calculating the power matrix – vertically and horizontally – and realising they will retain some degree of influence as governors,” says the ICPC boss.
However, Lusaka maintains his move is driven by the need to help execute the devolved programme in his Bungoma County. The PS is confident his educational background and 24-year-long experience in the civil service, mostly in the Provincial Administration, gives him a competitive edge for the governor’s job.