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Men only: Some mashujaa might stay hidden forever

Jerry S Ole Kina, 1st Deputy Secretary-General of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (Courtesy)

Everyone has already spoken about our Eliud Kipchoge as a real Kenyan ‘shujaa’, following his run in Vienna.

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But last weekend was about the heroes/heroines of our Independence story, and, to me, none stood taller than the trade unionist, Tom Mboya, who in his twenties as a union leader, did more for Kenyans than many men/women ever can – even if they were given a century.

For this reason, this week, I sought out a leader of the Union of Civil Servants (UKCS), Mr Jerry S ole Kina, for a real Kenyan voice on various issues that affect our nationhood.

For while we celebrate the men who win political power, and get to live on the top of the ‘House on the Hill,’ the real deal are the people on the slopes and foot of that hill – the Civil Servants – that keep the machinery of State running.

The UKCS is the organisation that represents our public servants within the service of government in matters that regard employment and their welfare, which is why ‘Men Only,’ on this weekend of patriotism, is pleased to highlight some of the issues of national workers.

Mr ole Kina, on the day we meet, is happy about The Standard’s headline: “New hefty benefits for teachers – Lowest paid tutors to get Sh750, 000 medical cover.” But he is unhappy about the lot of civil servants.

“Since 2012,” he says, “the NHIF has denied our members comprehensive medical cover, despite its set-up as a comprehensive medical cover for civil servants. It is limited in optical, dental and imaging services, and there should really be a 24-hour call centre for our members to inquire/access services.”

The union leader calls out the NHIF for failing to administer the Scheme in a way that benefits members.

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Yet the success of the Universal Health Care (for Kenyans) begins with teachers, and is pegged on the Civil Service, anywhere in the world.

Mr Jerry S ole Kina (Courtesy)

“Retired civil servants being of the age where many have chronic conditions are excluded from NHIF cover,” ole Kina decries. “A society that does not care for its older citizens cannot care for the young ones.” He points a finger at the NSSF that, the other day, was said to have ‘lost’ Sh5.6 billion of retirees’ money, and says NHIF is going in the same direction.

“What we need is an experienced private administrator who understands how medical covers are administered.”

Next, Bwana ole Kina turns his guns on the government’s recent ‘affordable housing’ policy.

“The Government imposed a housing levy that was rapidly enacted in parliament,” he complains, “over the loud objections of workers…”

He says if the State has decided to construct houses for its impoverished populace, surely it cannot be at the expense of/by taxing its already poorly paid public servants.

I tell the union boss that our country is “governance through cannibalism,” where the State eats its own kids (us) to stay fat and satisfied. The worry is what will happen when it runs out of children (tax payers).

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Lastly, ole Kina would like for all HR functions for public servants at the national level and county level be centralised. He cites delays in payments, and blatant pay discrimination, as the reason for centralisation urgency.

“Whereas the lowest cadre of former municipal worker now earns Sh17,610 at county level, a ‘devolved’ civil servant will make 44.4 per cent less, earning just Sh12,192 monthly.’ “

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And all the way up it goes, where for Principal Assistant Secretaries, it is Sh576, 120 for the former, and Sh292, 765 for the latter.

The Civil Service may have its faults. But when you think of agriculture, culture and social services, health, environment, natural resources, transport, trade, pre-primary education, public works, betting control and even fire-fighting, they are the country’s civil spine.

Once a chap has trodden on a banana skin and began to fall, it is difficult to tell them to stop! But I’m happy there are men like ole Kina, ready to point out that the fellow (say NHIF), is about to land hard on its bottom.

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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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