President William Ruto suffered his first setback on Wednesday after the Employment and Labour Relations Court barred the government from hiring new Cabinet Administrative Secretaries (CAS) in a court case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
Justice Monicah Mbaru issued the temporary orders, mounting the first hurdle for President William Ruto to put up his government.
“In the Interim to allow service upon the Respondent an order of stay of implementation of the process of establishment of the office of Chief Administrative Secretary in the Public Service be and is hereby issued,” ruled Justice Mbaru.
In the case, LSK argued that the Public Service Commission (PSC) never disclosed to the public the effect of hiring persons who are not identified by the Constitution.
According to Eric Theuri-Society, PSC ought to have come clean on the effect of having CASs in office.
LSK argued that CASs have a similar role as Principal Secretaries and will further deplete Kenyans' pockets as they will further stretch an already bloated civil service.
The society averred that PSC never intended to conduct meaningful public participation as it did not disclose that the work of a CAS will be similar to that of a PS.
“It is no doubt that the Kenyan economy is struggling, which has caused a financial strain on many Kenyans and pushed taxation beyond the elastic limit of the majority of Kenyans. Therefore, the establishment of the said CAS position must conform, and be seen to conform with the principles provided for in Article 201 (d) of the Constitution; to the effect that it ensures no duplicity of roles between CAS and Principal Secretaries,” LSK argued in its case filed by Theuri, Wesonga, and Company Advocates.
PSC advertised for CAS positions on Wednesday.
This is after the commission on September 21 asked Kenyans to submit their views on the creation of the position.
According to the commission, the functions of a CAS will include providing liaison with the National Assembly and the Senate, providing liaison with the county governments on matters of common interest.
At the same time, they will be providing inter-ministerial coordination, representing the Cabinet Secretary at any meeting and executing any other assigned duties.
LSK claimed that it tried to engage PSC on the appointments in vain. The Society argued that the public participation was intended to be a tick-in-the-box in an attempt to sanitize an already made decision to create the positions irrespective of the provisions of the law.
“There is likely to be duplicity of roles between the Principal Secretaries and the CAS, which would further bloat the public wage bill without corresponding improvement of service delivery in the public sphere,” said LSK’s CEO Florence Muturi in her supporting affidavit.
Ms Muturi said there is no evidence that the CSs have been overwhelmed by the assignments given to them. She stated the CAS position is not meant for service but it is meant to reward President Ruto’s supporters.
“It is also curious that the request has been made by the President even before he set up a government, and appointed Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries as required by Articles 152 and 155 hence the request is based on no study but the need to reward political supporters with public jobs," she said.
"The advert does not disclose also whether an audit of the workload of the Cabinet Secretaries had been conducted and whether a determination has been made in light of the requirements of Section 27 (1) (a) that the workload justifies the creation of the office,” added Muturi.
The advertisement for the position created by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017 but was declared unconstitutional by the courts with Uhuru ignoring the order will allow the President to reward his allies who did not make it to be Cabinet Secretaries or Principal Secretaries.
Some of the notable politicians appointed to the CAS position in 2017 include; Ababu Namwamba(Foreign Affairs), Chris Obure( Transport), Rachel Shebesh( Gender), Hussein Dado( Interior) Mercy Mwangangi(Health) and Hassan Noor Hassan(Sports).
Patrick Ntutu(Labour), Peter Odoyo(Defence) Winnie Guchu(Interior), Linah Jebii(Agriculture), Wavinya Ndeti(Transport), Lawrence Karanja (Trade), Nelson Gaichuhie (Finance), Abdul Bahari(Devolution), Ken Obura (East African Affairs), Zack Kinuthia(Sports) also served as Chief Administrative Secretaries.
Others who served as Chief Administrative Secretaries include; Mohammed Elmi(Environment), Sarah Ruto(Education), Mumina Bonaya(Education), Joseph Boinet (Tourism), Rashid Aman (Health), Andrew Tuimur(Water) Simon Kachapin(Energy) and Maureen Mbaka(ICT).
PSC Chairperson Anthony Muchiri in an advertisement said that following the establishment of the Office of the Chief Administrative Secretary by the President the Commission invites applications from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for appointment.
The roles of the CAS will include; providing liaison with the National Assembly and Senate, providing liaison with county governments on matters of concurrent mandate, providing inter-ministerial /sectoral co-ordination.
Other roles will include; representing the CS at any meeting as instructed and executing any other duties and responsibilities specifically assigned to the office by the Cabinet Secretary in furtherance of the interest of the Ministry.
Muchiri said that for appointment to this position, a candidate must be a Citizen of Kenya and should have a Bachelor’s degree from a university recognized in Kenya and demonstrable ability to manage the administrative-political interface.
They should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, demonstrable ability to articulate public policies and programmes, demonstrable ability to undertake complex and high-pressure tasks that require engagements with multi-institutions and other public officers;
Applicants were to submit copies of these clearance certificates with the application with all applications supposed to reach the Commission on or before 5.00 p.m. on October 27, 2022 with all applications clearly marked ‘Application for the position of Chief Administrative Secretary’.
Each application should be accompanied by a detailed curriculum vita, copies of relevant academic and professional certificates and transcripts, National Identity Card or Passport, testimonials and other relevant supporting documents.