Report: Tribes that dominate jobs as counties violate inclusivity law

National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman, Samuel Kobia, Marsabit Governor Mohammud Mohammed Ali and Tharaka Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya during the NCIC launch report on 2023 Ethnic and Diversity Audit of the Public Service Report in Nairobi on November 17, 2023. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Members of Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities have dominated county government jobs, a new report shows.

The latest Ethnic and Diversity Audit of the County Public Service, by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), has revealed that there are 28,556 Kalenjins employed by counties, representing 15.83 per cent of the total workforce.

Employees from the Kikuyu community are 28,462 (15.77 per cent), followed by Luhyas at 24,039 (13 per cent).

Overall, the report shows there is a total of 184,826 workers employed by counties. Of these, 98,000 (53 per cent), are females.

The report released in Nairobi yesterday established that only 28 per cent of counties (13) have complied with the law on ethnic diversity. The law requires inclusivity, especially of the minority ethnic communities, when employing workers.  

Counties that have complied with the law are Narok, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Embu, Busia, Trans-Nzoia, Nakuru, Isiolo, Mombasa, Nairobi, Tana River, Lamu and Marsabit.

Marsabit was ranked the best county in diversity and compliance with ethnic balance in its staffing, followed by Lamu, Tana River, Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru.

Political interference, budgetary constraints, perception of favouritism in job allocations, insecurity, laxity by oversight boards and low awareness on diversity and inclusivity legislation are some of the reasons cited for the imbalance in the allocation of jobs by counties.

Some of the culprits have up to 90 per cent ethnic dominance. The worst performing counties as far as ethnic balance is concerned are Bomet at 97.35 per cent, Elgeyo Marakwet (96.41), Vihiga (95.98), Nandi (95.85), Nyandarua (95.64), Nyamira (94.75), Kisii (994.37).

Others are Mandera (93.49), Kericho (93.31), Wajir (93.18), Makueni (92.52), Nyeri (92.38), Murang’a (92.22), Kirinyaga (92.20), West Pokot (91.45), Kakamega (90.80 and Siaya 90.43 per cent.

“Ethnically skewed employment undermines the social cohesion fabric amongst different communities, reduces levels of mutual trust and slows down the socio-economic development of the country; thereby defeating one of the key objectives of devolution,” said NCIC chairman Samuel Kobia.

The study reveals that the most represented ethnic communities occupy 87.6 per cent of all positions, leaving only 12.4 per cent for the remaining 35 communities in Kenya.

Nairobi is the biggest employer with a workforce of 13,513, followed by Kakamega (7,087), Bungoma (6,477), Kisii (5,965), Machakos (5,777) and Nakuru (5,681) in that order.

Counties have only hired 1.13 per cent (2,087) people with disability. Kobia said 11 counties improved their compliance levels with the most improved being Nairobi which went up by 11.88 per cent.

Other counties that have made improvements from 2016 are Mombasa, Nakuru, Busia,mbu, Tharaka Nithi,  Laikipia, Kakamega, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyeri counties.

At least 36 counties have regressed in their compliance with the County Governments Act 2012. West Pokot was the most retrogressed county by 42.35 per cent. Others are Kajiado (32.29), Kwale (16.83), Kilifi (16.62), Uasin Gishu (16), Wajir (14.58), Turkana (14.36), Taita Taveta (13.65), Samburu (11.59) and Siaya 11.53 percent.

“Further to the findings of the study, the commission has proffered key recommendations to correct the drift already created. We call upon respective counties to arrest the worrying trend by upholding the rule of law in every aspect, including diversity and inclusion in line with the spirit of devolution,” said Kobia.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki said he is concerned only 13 counties had complied with the law.

“We adopted our constitution to curb, among other things, ethnic animosity. It was also meant to enhance the political inclusion of all communities. Whereas the gains of the constitution have been felt in other sectors such as socio-economic and political development, there is a need for improvement in the counties' public service employment,” said Kindiki.

Council of Governors chair Anne Waiguru said her organisation remains committed to enhancing ethnic diversity. “The counties have implemented affirmative action programs and policies designed to address historical injustices and promote equal opportunities for all citizens irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds,” said Waiguru in a speech read on her behalf by Marsabit Governor Mohammud Mohammed Ali.

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