Patronage politics return to haunt the beneficiaries

IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati and commissioner Roselyn Akombe during a press conference

The chickens seem to have come home to roost over the culture of political patronage in the appointments and employment of public officers.

 Over the years, Kenyans have watched rather helplessly as politicians and political interests entrench themselves in the employment, appointments and promotions as well as transfers and sackings in the public service.

Politics and political interests have come to determine who gets employed, appointment, promoted, transferred or sacked in which public office or State Corporation.

Consequently, people have been employed in key positions in public service and state corporations purely because of political and personal influences by wielders of power or those with equal influence in the corridors of power.

 Some people in Kenya enjoy key positions in the public sector simply because they happen to have gone to the same schools with the bosses of recruiting entities and their respective political godfathers or have been close childhood friends, school mates, classmates or relatives of those in positions of power and influence in the political arena.

The unfolding drama being played out by political parties in rejection of a team appointed by the chair of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is just but a tip of the iceberg that exposes the impact and depth of political patronage in public service appointments.

Now the country is hearing classification or profiling of public services as associates or sympathisers of the two main protagonists in the repeat presidential contests. Warrying parties, Jubilee and NASA are accusing each other of being responsible or influencing appointments in the IEBC and describing officials of the commission as ‘’partisan.”

On this controversy over the IEBC impartially or lack of it among its top officers, politicians are simply reaping what they planted. They influenced appointments and now the same political interests want to arm-twist those they helped get employed to toe the line.

Yes folks, those employed by politics must be partisan because they know who are responsible for their employment and even their placement and ranking in this organisation.

For politicians and political parties to confidently and publicly single out names of officers they deem partisan is no small matter. It is a huge statement as to the extent and depth of this political involvement. There are people in the public today that are generally referred to as “watu wa Raila, watu wa Ruto and watu wa Uhuru (Raila Odinga’s people, DP William Ruto’s People and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s people).

This perception and profiling of public servants has impacted negatively on the performance, professionalism and discipline in the public service. The type of impunity that has come to be associated with Kenyan’s politics has long infiltrated the public service where some senior employees who enjoy strong political patronage have become a power unto themselves.

Those who engaged in politicizing public service largely ignore the reality that a strong, independent, impartial and efficient public service will never be built on the foundation of politics.