The Transition Authority will this week sue county governments for rejecting 700 doctors and other medical personnel posted to them because of their ethnicity.
TA chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi said the authority will seek legal redress on the matter, arguing that the 70/30 per cent rule in employment must apply. He reprimanded counties for ethnic bias in employment, saying the actions negate the true spirit of devolution.
Speaking during a consultative meeting between senators and the authority to take stock of the progress of implementation of devolution, the chairman regretted to note the health sector is in its sick bed as a result of inadequate personnel and equipment yet counties still discriminate staff. “It is worrying that counties can decide to reject qualified doctors because of their ethnic origins. TA will move to court next week (this week) to challenge the decision,” said Wamwangi.
He continued, “The Authority will also seek action against reported discrimination against health practitioners who have been given jobs by the devolved governments. The authority will sue the affected county governments to defend the people who have been asked not to work in the counties. Wamwangi said what counties are doing is unconstitutional.
“This is not what devolution is about. We want people to appreciate each other so we will take action against the mentioned counties so that this does not happen again,” said Wamwangi.
Senators demanded to know what TA was doing in terms of staff rationalisation in counties and in particular, the report released by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPD) condemning the rejection of medical personnel purely on tribal grounds.
The senators took TA to task over the myriad challenges counties face, which has hindered the smooth transfer of functions to the counties as stipulated in Schedule Four.
Senator Zipporah Kittony (nominated) protested that some counties were denying locals employment and hiring outsiders. But Wamwangi applauded what some counties were doing to meet the 30 per cent requirement to recruit from non-residents.
Governors have been criticised for turning away medical practitioners not born in the counties, a position the Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Peter Munya (Meru) has strongly refuted and censured the union over attempts to discredit counties over the management of the health function.
Governors Jack Ranguma (Kisumu), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) have affirmed that the medical personnel in their counties are treated well and dismissed claims made by doctors unions that their members were suffering in the hands of governors. The union has accused the devolved units of valuing ethnicity and nepotism more than the health of their people. Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro said it will look for adequate resources to help TA conduct civic education on the benefits of devolution.
“We will use our stature to get some money for civic education. We have been engaged with UNDP and other donors and we expect them to give us some funds which we will share with TA to do the exercise,” said Mr Ethuro.
Nevertheless, the senators lamented that the Authority has been silent on the ill happening in the counties, yet it was mandated to ‘midwife’ a seamless implementation process to the devolved units. “We have seen various challenges in almost all sectors. Most of the affected sectors including health and road do not have policies to guide transition,” said Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet).
He continued, “We are still groping in the dark in the transfer of roads or sections of health because of lack of policies that would help us develop laws.”
Senator Ben Njoroge (nominated) challenged the Authority to be more active so that it is not seen to be struggling to stamp its influence in the devolved structure. “The authority does not seem to be energetic enough to do its work. Why should we give you more time when it seems you are not doing you work?” questioned Senator Njoroge.