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Governor Hillary Barchok taken to task over hiring staff from the same community

POLITICS
By Grace Ng’ang’a | September 16th 2021
Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok when he appeared before the Committee on County Public Account and Investments (CPAIC) chaired by Senator Ochilo Ayacko at the Kenyatta International conference centre (KICC) Nairobi. September 14, 2021. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A parliamentary committee has put Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok in a spot for recruiting majority of county employees from his community.

According to Auditor General Nancy Gathungu’s report for the county’s financial year 2018/2019, all the 73 people employed during the period in review hailed from the Rift Valley, which members of the County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) faulted.

“During the year under review, the county recruited 73 employees all from one dominant ethnic community,” the report reads in part.

Turkana Senator Prof Malachy Ekal also took issue with the governor’s team, which he noted was from his region. The legislator said he was unable to comprehend why the governor was not “practising to unite this country.”

During the grilling, the governor was accompanied by Head of Accounts Erick Chepkowny, County Executive-Finance Andrew Sigei, and Chief Officer of Finance Bernard Cheruiyot.

“Even the team you have now, I have not heard of any Otieno or Wanjiku. This needs to stop. We need to represent Kenya so they can have the feeling that they can work anywhere,” Prof Ekal said.

Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga asked why the governor had not acted despite the same issue of “skewed recruitment” being raised before.

“This is not the first time this issue has been raised. We have had governors going out of their counties to hunt for personnel to fill some positions. What have you done?” the senator posed.

The county government was criticised for failing to comply with the County Government Act, where at most 70 per cent of staff should be locals and at least 30 per cent from outside the county. “When you say the county is giving equal opportunities to everyone yet the report gives such a huge number of dominance, it looks really bad,” said nominated Senator Mercy Chebeni.

The governor, however, defended himself, saying: “There is a lot of politics that accompany employment in our counties. We have strengthened our human resource department to ensure everything is well balanced.”

He also sought to know what dominance meant, adding that he had employed some individuals who were married and using the Kalenjin name.

“So how can we classify that there needs to be a clear definition of what this dominance means. I want to confirm to this committee that in my government we have all tribes. What constitutes dominance? Is it the name or the blood group? We need a clear definition of that,” he said.

But Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga disagreed. “From where I stand, any person who grows up as Langat, Korir... from any Kalenjin community has not qualified as someone from outside,” he said.

Bomet Senator Andrew Lang’at called for a policy “since it is a matter that affects all counties.” Barchok was also on the receiving end for being accompanied by men only.

There were also questions on unsupported rental expenditure for ward officers worth Sh4 million, and domestic travel and motor vehicle insurance cover.

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