House report: Kalenjin, Kikuyu dominate jobs in 14 State agencies

Parliament building in Nairobi. June 15, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A new report released by the National Assembly's Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity shows that six out of 14 public institutions' jobs are dominated by the Kikuyu community.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen 31.73 per cent), Kenya Trade Network Agency (30 per cent), Kenya Medical Research Institute (25.83 per cent), Kenya National Highways Authority (24.16 per cent), Kenya Bureau Standards (18.47 per cent) and Anti Counterfeit Authority (18.1 per cent) have the highest number of Kikuyu staff members.

The Kalenjin community dominates in the number of employees at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) (18.26 per cent), and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) (17.17 per cent) while they tie with the Kikuyu community in the Communication Authority of Kenya with each one of them having 19.43 per cent representation in employees.

According to the report, the Luo community has got the highest number of employees at the Kenya National Shipping Line (31.58 per cent) and Kenya Maritime Authority (15.97 per cent) while Kisii Community has the highest number of employees at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (39.70 per cent).

The Mijikenda community has the majority number of employees at the Coast Development Authority, at (42.86 per cent) and Pwani University (33.49 per cent) according to the parliamentary report bearing in mind that the two institutions are at the Coast.

"Out of the 14 sampled public institutions, none met the five per cent minimum threshold representation by persons with disability as per the requirement of the constitution with NSSF having 4.5 per cent disabled employees while Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) does not have any disabled employee," states the report in part.

According to the report, 12 out of the 14 public institutions met the two-thirds gender rule in employment except the KenGen which has 74 per cent of its employees being male while KNSL has 73.68 per cent.

Senior management

However, it has been noted that only six of the 14 public entities have complied with the two-thirds gender rule at the senior management level with the Kenya Rural Roads Authority with the lowest representation at 10 per cent.

According to the report, only six institutions have accorded equal opportunity employment to the youths with the TSC having 37.47 per cent of its employees between 20-35 years of age while the NSSF has the least representation of the youth at 7.8 per cent.

The Committee Chairperson and Mandera West MP Yusuf Adan Haji said the information received from the public institutions is indicative of the skewed composition of civil servants and a huge ethnic imbalance in employment with a few ethnic communities dominantly overrepresented.

"There was a consistent pattern of exclusion of some communities among all institutions that appeared before the committee and in most institutions, it is visible that some communities have been excluded from employment at all cadres which is causing acrimony in the country," said Haji.

He said the findings of the audit report demonstrate the lack of cohesion in Kenya. It is a major issue that requires resource-based interventions.

Addressing inequalities in the civil service requires strong political will and commitment and demands the recognition that Kenya as a nation is far more important than a single ethnic community.

The Parliamentary committee observed that public institutions do not play a role in the deployment of staff through central postings, adding that this has created an unequal distribution of employees across the various institutions with a lack of affirmative action to ensure equity.

Article 232 of the Constitution provides that the Public Service should be representative of the diverse Kenyan communities. However, the Parliamentary committee noted that public institutions have continued to carry out recruitments from overrepresented communities.

"Most of the institutions that appeared before the committee submitted that they do not receive applicants from some communities or persons with disabilities hence their low representation. Public institutions have focused more on meritocracy thereby ignoring gender, ethnic and regional balance to achieve the face of Kenya," said Haji.

The committee found that regional institutions have local communities as the majority of employees but are mostly found in the low cadre jobs which have low pay thus unlikely to attract communities from far-flung areas.

It was also established that there was a freeze in employment in most public institutions which made it difficult to bring in new employees despite some institutions being understaffed.

However, institutions are allowed to replace employees who exit either through natural attrition or otherwise.

Section Seven of the National Cohesion and Integration Act obligates public entities to ensure that no more than one-third of staff are from the same ethnic group.

However, the Kikuyu ethnic community has the highest representation in the country at 17 per cent of the national population. "National Assembly National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee recommends the amendment of Section 7 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008 by having no more than one-fifth of staff in public institutions so as to reflect the ethnic representation in the country," said Haji.

The report also found out that the composition of board members in public institutions come from highly represented communities thus little diversity within boards.

The committee recommended all public institutions liaise with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to affirmatively correct the anomaly of their staff to comply with section 7(2) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008.

"Due to historical injustices, the State should engage in accelerated affirmative action by rapidly building the human capital stock in marginalised areas through the establishment of schools, improvement of communication and infrastructure," said the report.

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