, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – Kenya drew closer to establishing the Salaries and Remuneration Commission after the vetting process for the commission’s chairperson kicked off in earnest on Thursday morning.
The screening which was scheduled to come to a close on Friday afternoon will see one candidate picked out of the eight short-listed individuals.
Catherine Omweno and Elijah Achoch were the first two candidates to appear before the selection panel, which is being chaired by George Muchai (Deputy Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions).
Although Ms Omweno said she was the best candidate for the position, she admitted that she was not conversant with the commission’s guiding principles as laid out in Article 230 (5) of the Constitution.
She also stumbled through her answers when Kennedy Kihara (representing the Cabinet Office) asked her to list the national values. This prompted Mr Kihara to ask her whether she had read the Constitution.
“I might have to refer to the Constitution to know what they are. I read the Constitution when it was still in draft form and I just skimmed through the final copy,” she admitted.
Ms Omweno also found herself in murky waters when she said she wanted to continue drawing a salary from her consultancy work. The panel members argued that State officers were not allowed to remain in private employment as it would be contravening of the Constitution.
She however noted that her work at the commission would be on part time basis for six years on a non renewable contract.
“I would still have to earn a salary because the commission will only serve on a part time basis,” she said.
Mr Achoch, who is currently pursuing a PhD programme, also raised the same concern. The selection panel however noted that he was a civil servant and it would therefore be in conflict of interest if he was selected as the commission’s chairperson but still continue working for the government.
He however said he would quit his job, if he was picked as the commission’s chairperson.
“There will be a conflict if you remain in public service because you will have to determine your own salary while at the same time determining the salaries and remuneration of other State and public officers,” argued Caroli Omondi, from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Both Ms Omweno and Mr Achoch mentioned that they would compare international trends in remuneration to determine the salaries of state and public officers. Ms Omweno further revealed that she would expect Sh1 million as her salary if she was selected while Mr Achoch said he expected Sh1.5 million.
Ms Omweno was also of the opinion that poor pay among public officers was not a reason for unethical behaviour like corruption.
“It is not about how much one earns. It is about integrity and culture,” she argued.
After the vetting process is completed, the panel will write its report for tabling in Parliament.
Other candidates being grilled for the position are Johnstone Mafenyi Kavuludi, Peter Bita Ondieki, Sarah Cheserem, Goeffrey Orao Obura, Abisai Ambege and Mary Kezzah.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission will have 13 members, excluding the chairperson, all nominated by various institutions both public and private. Some of the nominating institutions include: the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Teachers Service Commission and the National Police Service Commission.