, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga says public servants planning to vie for political office in the forthcoming general elections should resign immediately.
Addressing Permanent Secretaries – including James ole Kiyiapi who has declared interest in the presidency – Odinga said civil servants must remain non-partisan and focus on service delivery as the grand coalition nears its end.
“If you want to leave the civil service to politics my advice to you is you make an early decision to avoid conflict of interest. Walk the talk; don’t fear that you want to remain in the comfort of the public service and campaigning at the same time. Go and be a full time politician and meet other politicians in the field,” he said while presiding the official signing of performance contracts for ministries.
The PM called on Permanent Secretaries who are accounting officers in various ministries to remain focused and efficient for much needed quality service delivery.
He also challenged them to remain non-partisan in their duties and keep off politics as the country gets into the electioneering period.
Kiyiapi says that he will resign from the government next month to embark on his presidential bid. (See earlier interview with Capital News).
Several senior civil servants have already said they will quit their positions but were quick to add that they only will do so after the date of the next general elections is determined fully.
Kiyiapi told Capital News on Monday morning that he first wanted to oversee the release of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results.
“I will be transitioning after the release of the form four results and I have to do this a couple of weeks after the release. I must be launching my bid before April; I am ready now to do it,” the PS said after appearing on the Capital in the Morning Show.
The Elections Act 2011 states: “A public officer who intends to contest an election under this Act shall resign from public office at least seven months before the date of the election.”
Public office is defined as an office in the national government, a county government or the public service, if the remuneration and benefits of the office are payable directly from the Consolidated Fund or directly out of money provided by Parliament.
Nine Permanent Secretaries are said to be eyeing the lucrative county governor positions and have already put in place campaign strategies.
The Elections Act 2011 states that any public officer who will indicate support for or opposition against any party, side or candidate participating in the elections risks being fined Sh1 million or three year’s jail or both if convicted.
The same penalty will be meted on any public officer who will be found engaging in political campaigns or any other political activity.
Also to face the same punishment will by any public officer who will be found using public resources to initiate new development projects in any constituency or county three months before the elections in that constituency or county.
Last December, The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission took out a public advertisement asking Permanent Secretaries and other government officials planning to vie during next year’s elections to resign from their positions by January 14, if the elections are to be held on August 14, 2012.
But with the recent indication from the Cabinet that elections could be held in March 2013, the eight month window will kick off in July this year.