Diversity in public service has dominated national discourse for several years.
A few ethnic communities occupy most State jobs, presenting a serious challenge in regard to equity, fairness and social justice.
The Constitution and various laws obligate the government to promote unity and national cohesion through equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. But that is hardly implemented.
The latest report by a parliamentary committee has brought the matter back to the fore. It re-enacts an issue that has been widely canvassed with little success.
In the report prepared by Parliament’s Cohesion and Equal Opportunities Committee and based on an audit of 24 public institutions, frightening inequalities persist in government departments.
This is a serious cause for worry. It engenders hard feelings of marginalisation and deep resentment for the government by communities scarcely represented in public offices.
Since independence, the country evolved a perverted culture where those holding public offices opened up opportunities for their kith and kin at the expense of others.
So, communities that have held presidency have unduly benefited from State jobs and contracts. This explains the reason for fierce political contests every electoral cycle.
The presidency and other top positions are perceived as opportunities for access to State resources and jobs.
Conversely, those outside the orbit of national leadership feel ostracised and relegated to the periphery.
Secondly, some communities historically had a head-start in terms of access to education and, therefore, found themselves disproportionately well-placed to get State appointments, to the chagrin of others.
This has fomented ferocious pursuit for academic credentials with the end result of massive cheating in examinations.
That only came to an end four years ago, when the government stamped its authority to avert a crisis of legitimacy of the country’s education systems and qualifications.
The push for equity is an imperative. All Kenyans pay taxes and deserve an equal chance at State appointments. We need to see the face of Kenya in all government offices.
Beyond cataloguing the disparities, Parliament must compel the Executive to set targets and timelines to end the imbalances.
Tied to this is affirmative action for marginalised and disadvantaged communities. The government must prioritise meritocracy.
Recruitment has to be streamlined with loopholes that allow whimsical employment sealed and perpetrators of the vice dealt with. Ethnic balance in public offices is paramount.
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