, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 15 -The government was on Monday put on the spot over its staff rationalisation policy after members of Defence and Foreign Relations Committee claimed that politicians were using it to reward political associates.
Committee members led by chairman Adan Keynan cited case where the appointment of a former legislator to the Brussels mission had caused anxiety within the mission with junior staff protesting to the European Union Parliament over the matter.
The committee accused the government of basing the appointment of ambassadors to Kenya’s 51 diplomatic missions on nepotism, tribalism and political patronage.
“The policy as you’re saying is very right, but that’s not what’s on the ground. This policy has been abused over the last few years to the detriment of the country. They used this thing you are calling rationalisation to benefit their cronies,” said Mr Keynan.
However, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura has defended the appointments saying they were done on merit.
“Appointments in the Foreign Service are not haphazard, this is serious business carried out by the Public Service Commission,” said Mr Muthaura.
Acting Foreign Affairs PS Peter Wamoto also defended political appointees as country representatives arguing that due to their exposure to public life, they are best placed to market Kenya abroad.
However, MPs insisted that some of the envoys, more so, the ones in New York (UN) and Brussels (Belgium) were not qualified in their work.
The MPs questioned the rationale of recalling envoys and then replacing them with “fresh graduates with no experience.”
Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno who also attended the meeting said it cost the country up to Sh2 million a month to maintain one foreign attaché overseas and therefore the issue of cost was paramount.
But the committee did not relent and objected to the government’s explanation that the decision was meant to save the public money.
The MPs, all members of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, said that in Germany, the Immigration attaché was recalled and replaced by “a political officer” who had no knowledge on immigration matters.
They said the Kenyan Ambassador in Germany Mutuma Kathurima, had written nine letters protesting the decision to recall the Immigration attaché but the government only acted after the House committee intervened.
Mr Muthaura said the government’s policy was meant to ensure efficiency in the foreign missions. He said the staff is recalled from missions abroad because of “indiscipline, underperformance and other administrative reasons.”