Kenya's Ruto gifts loyalists, new allies with 50 ministerial positions
Friday March 17 2023
Kenya’s President William Ruto Thursday completed the creation of what is the most bloated Executive in the country’s recent history, which is expected to gobble up Ksh13.2 billion ($101 million) in five years, even as intrigues surrounding the appointment of 50 chief administrative secretaries (CASs) emerged.
The Nation has learnt that Kenya’s State House had initially asked the Public Service Commission (PSC) to create 23 CAS posts, which have now risen to 50, signalling competing political interests that saw the shortlist at one point reopened to accommodate more applicants.
“In way of this letter, the Commission is requested to declare 23 vacancies in the Office of the Chief Administrative Secretaries; and thereafter proceed to commence the recruitment process on a priority basis,” then Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua said in a letter to PSC on October 11, 2022.
The 50 CAS — whom President Ruto wants to act as the liaison between the ministries and Parliament as well as counties — will cost Kenyan taxpayers Ksh460 million ($3.5 million) annually in salaries, totalling Ksh2.3 billion ($177 million) in five years.
The PSC has classified CAS under CSG3, which is equivalent to Job Group V, making them entitled to a monthly salary of Ksh765,188 ($5,890).
The CASs, like the principal secretaries are also entitled to a Ksh35 million ($2.7 million) mortgage and Ksh10 million ($77,000) car grant (Ksh8 million for PSs), both of which will cost the taxpayer Ksh2.25 billion ($17.3 million) in the one-off payments over five years. The taxpayers will additionally provide Ksh10 million and Ksh3 million ($23,000) inpatient and outpatient medical cover for each CAS.
In all, over the course of five years, taxpayers will pay Ksh5.856 billion ($45 million) for salaries, Ksh4.415 billion ($34 million) in mortgages, Ksh1.128 billion ($8.7 million) in car loans and Ksh1.815 billion ($14 million) in gratuity for the CSs, PSs, and CASs.
And although the mortgage and car loans are repayable within the five-year period, the strain on taxpayers to foot the nearly Ksh3 billion ($23 million) at a time of budget cuts and austerity might mean belt-tightening in other sectors of the economy.
A CAS is also entitled to two top-of-the-range vehicles, a driver, an unspecified number of security personnel to be moving around with him or her and guarding their Nairobi and rural homes, a personal assistant and two secretaries.
The government may acquire extra office space for ministries that cannot accommodate another senior official, meaning an extra cost to the taxpayer. In former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, some CASs were housed away from their line ministries due to limited space.
President Ruto also missed the two-thirds gender rule in the CAS list with only 14 of the 50 posts going to women.
President Ruto has 22 CSs, including Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and 51 PSs. Mr Kenyatta had 29 CASs and 44 PSs. Even though the Constitution caps ministries at 22, the CAS position that was created by Mr Kenyatta does not limit the President.
For President Ruto, the increase in number of CASs from Uhuru’s 29 to 50 has allowed him to reward loyalists, August 2022 poll losers from opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard and campaign bigwigs.
The intrigues in the appointment of the CASs began with the shortlisting, with six of the 16 people who were added after the first list was out being part of the 50 nominated.
Apart from politicians who lost in the polls, the head of state has also rewarded individuals who played a vital role in his campaigns behind the scenes.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua last week defended the CAS role, saying it was important to assist the CSs and PSs in ministries.
Mr Odinga last week termed the CAS positions a waste of public money, arguing that the resources being used to expand the Executive should be pumped into addressing the high cost of living as well as increasing funding to institutions of higher learning.
“This is not the time to create offices and positions for Kenya Kwanza political rejects. Instead, Kenya Kwanza must be forced to redirect resources towards making life liveable for all our citizens,” he said.