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Exposed: 32 most tribalistic counties in Kenya

By STEVE MKAWALE and PATRICK KIBET | September 29th 2016
NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo. A report put together by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission lifts the mask on 32 counties that have violated the law on ethnic balance and diversity in public service employment. (PHOTO: FILE/ STANDARD)

A State agency has exposed counties whose key employment criteria since 2013 appears to be that you must be ethnically-correct, meaning you must have been born there, to get an employment letter. 

The report put together by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) lifts the mask on 32 counties that have violated the law on ethnic balance and diversity in public service employment. 

The study, commissioned by NCIC for the past four years, names the counties that have been turned into employment bureaus for the ‘sons and  daughters of the soil.” The picture could have been more telling were it not that cosmopolitan counties escaped the negative rating because of the multiplicity of ethnic groups and the political influence those elected among them wield in recruitment.

County Public Service boards in the 32 counties have disregarded a quota reserved for hiring employees to ensure ethnic diversity and instead filled positions with people from the local community.

Some have up to 97 per cent of employees from their tribes, which violates Section 65 of the County Government Act (2012) that proposes 70 per cent of jobs be given to locals and 30 per cent be reserved for experts from outside these areas.

More inclusive

The study done between November 2014 and August 2015 shows at least 32 have hired over 70 per cent of their staff from one ethnic group.

Only 15 counties (31.9 per cent) have adhered to the law, giving over 30 per cent of vacancies at entry level to members of ethnic groups that are not dominant in their jurisdictions.

“This implies new recruitment continues to contravene the provisions of the existing law,” stated the report titled ‘Ethnic and Diversity Audit of the County Public Service.’

NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo said the study was conducted as a way of ensuring that county governments strive to be more inclusive. He told Kenyans to remain vigilant in holdingcounties accountable for the obligations vested on them by law.

“By publishing this report, the commission has presented the country with policy recommendations to ensure ethnic equality and equitable distribution of opportunities in the county public service,” he added. “If well implemented, this will enhance unity of purpose among Kenyans from all walks of life.”

Bomet, headed by Governor Isaac Ruto, hired 97.9 per cent of 330 new employees from his Kalenjin community. Kirinyaga County was also flagged in the report for skewed appointments after it hired 97.6 per cent of 569 new staff from the Kikuyu community.

Elgeyo Marakwet headed by Governor Alex Tolgos was found to have 97.6 per cent of 569 new employees from the Kalenjin. In the case of Bomet and Elgeyo Marakwet, it is not clear if the employment ratio favours the resident Kalenjin sub-clans in the two counties.

At least 97.9 per cent of workers in Nyamira come from the Abagusii community while in the neighbouring Kisii County, 97.5 per cent of 3,606 staff are from the same community.

The report further revealed that of the 1,671 workers in Tharaka Nithi County, 95.6 per cent were from Tharaka. The Meru and Kikuyu communities had 1.9 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.

Kisii also flouted the law according to the study that revealed 1,275 (97.5 per cent) of new employees appointed since the inception of devolution were from the Kisii community.

In Kericho County, 95.3 per cent of the 2,550 workers belong to the Kalenjin community while 95.2 per cent of the 2,638 workers in Murang’a County are Kikuyus.

Although Uasin Gishu has 64.9 per cent of 2,599 staff from the Kalenjin, 94.4 per cent of new staff employed under Governor Jackson Mandago are from his Kalenjin community.

The NCIC report also observed that the naming of certain counties may have given some groups an advantage in claiming opportunities.

“The names of counties such as Samburu, Kisii, Tharaka Nithi, Nandi, Turkana, West Pokot, Embu and Meru are among other perceptions of discrimination as they seem to give entitlement benefits to the said groups,” read the report.

The study also revealed that of these eight counties, seven accorded over 90 per cent of posts to the named groups. In Baringo, Governor Benjamin Cheboi’s administration had 81.5 per cent of its 4,056 work force from the Kalenjin community. Of that number, the minority Njemps were given 151 slots and the Pokots 224.

A similar situation is replicated in 23 other counties with a wider inter-ethnic representation that tended to adhere to legal expectations, even if measured against the stipulation of the law.

The study showed counties such as Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale seemed to have generated a wider inter-ethnic interaction platform.

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