EXPERT COMMENT

We have failed to create a cohesive society

Suba says Kenya struggling to strike ethnic balance in state bodies

In Summary

• 2010 Constitution dictates that principles of public service dictates gender and ethnic inclusivity.

Parliament Buildings.
Parliament Buildings.
Image: FILE

As a country, we have not done very well observing and adhering to the principle of public service. Under the 2010 Constitution, principles of public service dictate that our public service be populated in a manner that becomes a reflection of the cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic character of Kenya.

Kenya is still struggling to overcome its ugly past which has been characterised by the domination of majority ethnic communities at the expense of those that are not numerically strong.

This matter of national cohesion and integration is an observation that is not just being made by the committee of parliament for the first time. It started at the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. What has been lacking is the political will to put into action some of the recommendations.

 

So, we have been in this situation where whenever certain dominant communities have their own in positions of power, they subsequently appoint cabinet members based on ethnic considerations, then those people, because of the culture of patronage, continue to perpetuate this culture of patronage by appointing their tribesmen and women to head departments. This happens all the way to the lowest cadres of office messengers and cleaners.

In certain ministries and parastatals, you find people can easily communicate in their mother tongues and even approve national policy propositions. I think this is very unfortunate.

So, at this time when we are discussing inclusivity, I think the discourse that is being held by the Building Bridges Initiative, provides an opportunity of its own kind, and if this handshake was initiated by deep reflections, then in my view, inclusivity ought not to be looked at in terms of national executive. But it is also the opportunity to ask ourselves whether even that National Assembly, whose committee is giving these recommendations, is inclusive.

We should ask ourselves whether the laws that have been passed by Parliament, for example, recommending that MPs be university graduates, where does that place majority who have no degrees? Are we saying that if the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who was not a university graduate, resurrected today, he would be told that he is not qualified and competent to be an MP?

The human rights activist spoke to the Star