Why fake certificates for jobs in public service is organised crime

Then-City commander Japhet Koome displays fake certificates impounded at a building in Mfangano Street, Nairobi, in April 2016. [Willis Awandu, Standard]

A few days ago, President William Ruto said that the government will confront corruption in the county and national governments head-on.

The president's warning comes when the Public Service Commission (PSC) audit revealed serious nonconformities in both levels of government, where 2,100 employees used forged academic certificates from what can be called “River Road University” to secure jobs.

The ending week also saw much hubbub surrounding the vetting of a Mr Charles Githinji, who was nominated as consul-general for Goma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations met with a D- candidate who scored E in English and Kiswahili. They expected him to know the meaning of GDP and EACRF – the latter is only known in Congo-Kinshasa.

In the meantime, we confuse lack of education and academic papers with incompetence. We have high-ranking Cabinet secretaries who do not have university qualifications – and according to our government, they are performing their duties, safe from a few 'frog' noises from discontented opposition members who do not want good for the country.

In a country with a literacy level above 82 per cent, one does not need a degree or diploma to be appointed as an ambassador. Therefore, if we do not require education for a high-ranking diplomat (who is our face in another country), why on earth do we need a public servant to hold a genuine academic qualification?

Were it not for Mr Charles Githinji’s inability to grasp basic things like the meaning of GDP and inability to perform other elementary mental tasks, the MPs would have okayed his nomination. Interestingly, the honourable members lamented that the candidate did not get a coach to prepare him for the vetting process.

The qualification issue has never bothered our honourable members. Otherwise, they would have presented a motion in Parliament to demand that someone possess at least a degree to be considered for an ambassadorial appointment.

If a D- candidate with E in English and Kiswahili qualifies to be an ambassador, why do we need a more qualified person working in the public sector? Why do we need to fund public universities when we can get qualifications at a cheaper price at River Road University?

More questions! Why should we convince our children that education and qualification matter when they can watch cartoons instead of going to school, save that money and use a fraction of it to buy a certificate at River Road University? Do we have a country here?

It is not shocking that over 2,100 government employees have ‘procedurally’ secured employment in the public sector using fake documents. It is now evident that devolution regionalised more corruption and theft than it did development and service delivery.

No wonder one does not need to go through school to be employed in the public sector – one can buy a certificate at River Road University, go through a rigorous interview and beat genuine graduates.

Like the existence of ghost workers, the fake document jobs saga is organised crime. The fact that a quark can work for over 10 years without being noticed casts many aspersions on the nature of jobs in the public service. How much competence does the job require? Do employees in the public sector even work, and how are output and delivery measured? Are there key performance indicators in the public service?

The public sector should tell the country whether the ‘quarks’ can deliver like regular graduates. How did they pass through interviews? Does the government (both national and county) care about quality service delivery?

If the State House can nominate an uneducated person as an ambassador, doesn't that mean the rot is right from the head? What can prevent the world from concluding that Kenya’s public service prefers River Road graduates over genuine graduates? When will we have a country?