There is anxiety in Bomet County after Governor Hilary Barchok told the workforce that he would sack staff that campaigned against him in the just concluded General Election.
Addressing a staff meeting at the Bomet AAF Stadium on Saturday, Barchok made it clear that he would not work with staff who were not loyal to him.
“It is a hard decision I am making but I have to because I cannot work with staff who do not trust my leadership,” he said.
He announced that his administration would soon be issuing termination letters to some of the staff, saying some, especially those in the health department had sabotaged his work by hiding and stealing drugs from health facilities.
The county chief, who was re-elected to serve for a second term, claimed the targeted staff openly campaigned for his opponent and even publicly criticised him during campaigns.
“These are not stories; they were talking openly of how they were going to issue me with a notice on the ballot in August. Those are the kind of workers whose employment will be terminated using the legal procedure. And we will recruit others who have shown trust in my leadership,” he said.
Barchok made it clear that this being his final term as the governor, he would want to cement his legacy and he needed people he can trust with that.
He said he had already identified the right staff, who are loyal and keen on ensuring that his legacy is secured.
“It is sad how some of my staff played politics even with their work and that is sheer sabotage which I will not tolerate,” he said.
Reading the riot act to the attentive members of staff, he asked those who had no faith in his leadership to step aside and allow those who share in his dream to serve the county.
The media was locked out of the meeting but according to audio recording and interviews with some members of staff, it was clear that Governor Barchok meant business and was keen to execute his plan beginning this week.
According to the recordings and the interviews with the workers, top of the list of the governor's chopping board are chief officers, county ministers and directors who aligned themselves with the former governor Isaac Ruto.
The meeting has sparked an uproar with civil rights activists in the county threatening to move to court to stop any staff from being sacked for political reasons.
Kipkemoi Barsumei, a former mayor-turned-civil rights activist, said it was unlawful for Barchok to threaten workers with the sack simply for taking a different political view from his.
Barsumei said only staff who breach the code of employment or labour laws should be sacked but not those who aligned themselves with certain political persuasions.
“It will be very wrong to sack anyone because he just aligned him or herself with a political side and I am warning Barchok that he is inviting serious legal battle,” he told a press conference on Sunday.
Barsumei said it was sad that the governor was determined to send the employees home and was not concerned about their welfare.
He said county employees had gone for months without pay and the governor had not rectified the situation.
“Delayed salaries could be the reason the staff chose to side with Barchok’s competitors and he should blame himself for it and stop targeting innocent employees,” Barsumei said.