Governor gives new recruitment rules after health workers saga in Nakuru

Nakuru governor Susan Kihika when she appeared before the committee on County Public Investments and Special Funds at KICC in Nairobi on June 27, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Recruitment of employees on contract in Nakuru County will be done on merit and in accordance with the framework for short-term employment in public service, Governor Susan Kihika has said.

Speaking on the divisive issue of contracts of over 500 health workers, Kihika said going forward, recruitment of all casual workers would be handled by the County Public Service Board and not departments.

Initially, the process was left to the department hence the lack of coordination, a discrepancy in remuneration, nepotism and cronyism.

The governor defended her administration's decision to re-evaluate the health workers’ contracts saying they were not hired on a permanent and pensionable basis. 

"Therefore, the contracts do not attract automatic renewal upon expiry. In line with good practice, the County Government issued a notice of this expiration via advisory letter dated 31st," she said in a statement on her official Facebook page and the county website.

Apprehension and tension

Her response came after a week of protests, apprehension and tension at the Nakuru Referral and Teaching Hospital and the Naivasha sub-county hospital following the expiry of contracts for 583 technical health employees.

In her statement, Kihika said the workers were on a three-month contract that had ended and denied claims that they were sacked.

She assured those affected that the County Public Service Board was in the process of vetting and reviewing their performance with a view to renewing the contracts.

However, the governor said renewal of the contracts would depend on performance, and academic and professional credentials, including certified documents.

"It is evident that some of the affected health workers were not recruited by the County Public Service Board," she noted in her response. But Kihika was silent on her pre-election pledge to offer contract health workers and doctors permanent and pensionable jobs once elected.

Health workers

During the 2022 gubernatorial campaigns, and on assuming office on August 30, Kihika said her first priority would be to ensure health workers are recruited on a permanent and pensionable basis.

On Saturday, July 1, 2023, County Public Service Board chairman Charles Mwai concurred with the governor saying the process of streamlining the recruitment of contractual employees was ongoing.

He admitted that previously, there were challenges as departments would do the recruitment and only involve the board at the tail end of the process.

"There were instances of discrepancies in salaries where people do the same job but earn different salaries, over employment, nepotism and unqualified staff being recruited. We are cleaning up the mess," Mwai said.

Concerned about interference

However, members of the civil society through Friends of Devolution organisation headed by Ben Macharia, said they were concerned about interference by politicians in the recruitment of staff in the county. He said MCAs must keep off the process and allow it to be done in a professional manner.

“As a civil rights group, we will be keenly monitoring the re-evaluation process to ensure that only deserving persons get employment. We will also guard against political interference by MCAs,” he said.

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