Judiciary is broke, judges and staff lose medical cover

Judiciary Human Resources Acting Director Onyango in a memo to staff, dated June 7, said the scheme stood suspended from June 7. [File, Standard]

Medical insurance cover for all judges and its employees have been suspended over insufficiency of funds in a move linked to national government threats to ‘revisit’ judiciary.

In the drastic moved on Friday, all judicial staff, including Chief Justice David Maraga will now have to use their pocket money to access medical services or rely on the limited National Hospital Insurance Fund cover.

A memo released essentially spoke of a broke judiciary, brought down on its knees by a mean national treasury.

The move has been widely condemned.

“This is to inform all judges, judicial officers and staff that the judiciary medical services have been suspended effective June 7, 2018 due to insufficient funds, as we have not received money from national Treasury,” the memo sent by judiciary’s human resource director L. Onyango read in part.

A number of judges and employees who talked to The Standard on Saturday termed the move as a shame to the Jubilee administration for ‘continually starving the judiciary’ as a pay back.

 “You can see what the executive is doing; they are by large fighting back. We had our budget slashed, as Parliament and executive remain with the same share of money.  This is absurd,” a senior judge who begged anonymity said.

He added, “Have you ever heard that MPs will not go to hospital because there is no money or President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto being told not to fall sick or not to travel because the country lack funds? We also generate money for the Government.”

In the memo, the HR urged everyone to keep calm, with an assurance the services would be reinstated pretty soon.

But she did not say how soon, a pointer that they should brace themselves for ‘foot and the tarmac’ scenario in the event the cloud will not clear out.

 “Robust engagements are underway with both National Treasury and services provider with a view of reinstating services as soon as possible. In the meantime, those seeking medical services are advised to pay and keep receipts for reimbursement. Kindly take the advantage of the services provided under the NHIF cover,” advised Ms. Onyango.

Ms. Onyango in her memo which is also copied to DCJ Philomena Mwilu and Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Ann Amadi said that there are negotiations with both the treasury and the insurer with an aim of restoring the cover.

Over the years, Judiciary has been complaining of being starved of funds, an issue viewed as curtailing its independence.

A bill placed in Parliament to ensure Judiciary is financially autonomous has also not been debated to date.

A four-year strategic plan released by the Judiciary indicated between -2008 and 2012 - its bid to enhance independence was frustrated by the cold play between it, the Parliament and the Executive. And it played around finances.

The 75-paged document covering strategic plans for years between 2014 and 2018 cited financial independence was not achieved.

The Judiciary used to get a budgetary allocation of Sh 3 billion each financial year. The monies were increased five-fold to a tune of Sh 15 billion, again to Sh 19 billion

The plan required Sh 23.734 billion to be realized.

 Last year, treasury slashed Sh1.95 billion in bid to finance elections.

On the other hand, the Judicial Service Commission’s budget was cut by 62.6 per cent, from Sh490.2 million to Sh183.5 million.

 Again, parliament has gone for another Sh2.5 billion cut on Judiciary’s allocation of Sh17 billion.