EACC probing staff recruitment in the counties, warns governor over arrests

Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission CEO Twalib Mbarak during their meeting with National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee on the investigations and Prosecutions of anti corruption and economic crimes at Parliament on Thursday on June 27, 2019. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The anti-graft agency is investigating several counties on claims of illegal hiring that has been blamed for soaring wage bills.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is probing Kitui, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, Busia, Lamu, Homa Bay and Nandi counties on claims influencing appointments to county staff recruitment boards, employment of staff using forged documents, nepotism and over-staffing.

The probe comes as some tenures of County Public Service Boards (CPSB), which are tasked to recruit for counties draw to an end.

A number of board members have complained that governors influence recruitment of unqualified and unskilled staff.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for EACC, Twalib Mbarak, has warned governors to abide by the hiring law or risk being arrested and prosecuted.

“The commission is monitoring the process to detect any malpractices or irregularities by county governments and will take appropriate action against those found culpable. Be guided accordingly,” states Mr Mbarak in a letter dated July 15 to all county secretaries through the Council of Governors (CoG) CEO Jacqueline Mogeni.

“The commission has received complaints alleging malpractices and interference in the recruitment process of the boards in some county governments as the term of recurrent boards come to an end,” the letter states.

The inquiry comes at a time counties are grappling with bloated workforce that has seen them spending more money on paying salaries and little on development.

Hiring relatives

Some governors have also been accused of employing relatives and cronies, denying qualified job seekers opportunities. 

Already, Marsabit County Executive members have been questioned and recorded statements with the EACC. 

The 16 officials, drawn from various departments are under investigations on claims of skewed employment.

Busia county is under investigations for approving employment of more than 20 communications officers in the governor's office, 12 security men, 11 drivers and 15 liaison officers.

Kitui is being investigated on suspected irregular recruitment of staff and interference in roles vested on the CPSB.

A survey conducted in the 47 counties in June 2016 revealed that the devolved units are overstaffed by more than 25,000 workers.

The investigations focuses on the counties compliance with Chapter Six and the Leadership and Integrity Act, which lays out the basic tenets on moral and ethical requirements of public officers seeking to hold any public office.

It also revolves around adherence to the national values and principles of governance, which include good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability.

According to EACC, all county hiring must be based on personal integrity, competence and suitability.

In his letter, Mbarak states that the Constitution prescribes the values and principles of public service to include fair competition and merit as the basis of appointments and promotions.

Further, he noted that the County Government Act, 2012 stated that the appointment of the members of CPSBs should be through a competitive process.

“These requirements are envisaged to promote transparency and accountability in the governance and delivery of quality services to the people of Kenya," states Mbarak.

“To this end, the commission pursuant to Section 4(2) and 44(2) of the leadership and Integrity Act advises that you ensure the recruitment process is complete transparent and in line with the provided provisions," he wrote.

He noted that CPSBs are crucial pillars in county governance.