Public officials perpetuating ethnic and regional imbalance in hiring and promotion of government employees must be punished in the interest of creating an equitable society.
A parliamentary report on ethnic composition in public institutions has revealed skewed hiring that has favoured the and communities where the ruling elite also hail from. This is disturbing given that those in position of controlling fresh employment in government have defied the diversity policy unveiled in 2015 and which guides appointments in State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The policy prepared by the Public Service Commission (PSC), stipulates that ethnic groups whose job representation in any MDA surpasses their corresponding national population proportion are considered to be over-represented in that MDA. This was expected to tackle the problem of over-representation by setting hiring quotas for ethnic groups and disadvantaged classes such as the disabled.
Now, however, a parliamentary report shows that ethnicity has become entrenched in recent years, and has recommended punishment to curb the malpractice.
The review of 24 public agencies by the National Assembly’s Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee indicates none of the institutions has equitable representation of all the 43 ethnic groups of Kenya. The report showed a positive correlation between the ethnic background of the top executive and the dominant community in the State-owned companies. That could be an indication that the chief executives of State-owned firms influence the employment of cronies and kinsmen in the firms they head.
The public service is also struggling to ensure that offices funded by taxpayers have the face of Kenya with all communities given an opportunity to serve in the civil service. This ideal, however, remains just that. It needs to be translated into reality.
Because of the existing imbalance, communities like the Njemps, Kenyan Arabs, Kenyan Asians, Ogiek, Samburu, Somali and Taveta are routinely under-represented in State jobs.
Heads of public institutions must stop this trend, and having a clause that provides for punishment of those in breach of the diversity policy should be the first step in rectifying the imbalance.
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