NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – All regular staff at the disbanded Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) below the age of 53 will be re-absorbed into various government ministries and departments.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office said the former employees were expected to sign a form indicating whether they wished to be re-deployed or not within a fortnight.
“Those who wish to be re-deployed will be appointed within the civil service grading and salary structure based on academic and professional qualifications,” Public Service Permanent Secretary Titus Ndambuki said.
They will however receive pension benefits in accordance with ECK rules.
The Permanent Secretary further stated that those who opted not to be deployed or had attained the age of 53 which is two years short of the mandatory retirement age would be paid a golden handshake of Sh170,000 in addition to a month’s basic salary.
The decision by the Government to send the more than 500 employees home was reached after President Kibaki assented to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008.
A copy of the letter terminating their services said in part: “As you are aware, the government is in the process of working out modalities to facilitate the transitional arrangements of the ECK. In this regard, it has been decided that all ECK staff proceed on leave with immediate effect.”
The letter was copied to ECK Chairman Samuel Kivuitu and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service.
The ECK, under the chairmanship of Samuel Kivuitu, was accused of mismanaging the 2007 General Election that sparked violence protests after the opposition said that the government had rigged the polls. As a result, 1,133 people were killed in the violence and 350,000 others displaced.
An interim electoral agency is yet to be put in place to carry on electoral reforms.
The government had called on the workers to sign an option form indicating their response to their planned redeployment.
However, most workers have refused to fill the form since the government had failed to guarantee them automatic absorption and their current well remunerated terms of service.
The lowest officer took home a net salary of above Sh30,000 while his counterpart at the civil service earns less than Sh15,000.
The ECK Secretary who is the Chief Executive Officer earns a salary equivalent to that of a Permanent Secretary.
The government had further maintained that employees would only be absorbed within the terms available to the civil service.
It had indicated that the option form was not an offer or guarantee for re-deployment to the public service.
The dissolution of the electoral body was in line with the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission that probed the disputed 2007 elections.
Members of Parliament moved to save the jobs of the junior officers and pushed for an amendment to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008 that allowed their absorption into the civil service.
The original Bill had provided for their sacking but the officers put up a spirited fight saying they were being punished for the mistakes of their bosses.