Big hurdles for 50 bigwigs in Ruto CAS jobs list

State Law office has disowned legislative piece anchoring post

In Summary

•Even if approved, Ruto may not have room for hiring 50 as was the case before the annulment. 

•Post also in unchartered waters after a court declared it unconstitutional.

President William Ruto during swearing in of Chief Administrative Secretaries at State House, Nairobi on March 23, 2023.
President William Ruto during swearing in of Chief Administrative Secretaries at State House, Nairobi on March 23, 2023.
Image: PCS

Political leaders seeking reappointment to the controversial position of chief administrative secretaries face new hurdles that may force President William Ruto to 'disappoint' his friends.

A new bill that seeks to anchor the position in law has triggered a controversy in the Executive and has been disowned by Attorney General Justin Muturi.

The State Law move has raised questions on the legal soundness of the National Government Administrative Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, since CAS positions had been declared unconstitutional by the High Court.

The Justices made the judgment in July last year rendering the 50 Ruto appointees mainly political rejects, jobless.

The omnibus bill also seeks to make a raft of changes, including, making the president’s security adviser a member and the secretary to the National Security Council.

But it has emerged that the controversial bill before Parliament, sponsored by Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa was also yet to be ratified by Cabinet.

The second hurdle facing the CAS appointees is that even if the bill sails through, Ruto will be compelled to appoint just about 22 of them.

This means that nearly half will still remain in the cold.

Among big names affected are former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, blogger Dennis Itumbi, former nominated senator Millicent Omanga, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, former Starehe MP Charles Njagua and former Laikipia MP Catherine Waruguru.

Others are former Knut boss Wilson Sossion, former nominated MP Isaac Mwaura and former MPs Benjamin Washiali and Nicholas Gumbo.

In what could dash hopes again, several stakeholders have raised issues with the position, with some holding that MPs efforts could be in vain.

Azimio, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and Mzalendo Trust, have voiced their concerns with the bill as proposed.

In their judgement, the judges said it was not the intention of the framers of the 2010 Constitution to have 50 CASs for 22 Cabinet Secretaries.

“It is, therefore, our considered view that the creation of similar offices to that of the assistant minister, now in the name of CAS, cannot be created in the manner the first respondent [President Ruto] and the fifth respondent [Public Service Commission] proceeded,” the judges said.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has now petitioned Parliament to cap the maximum number of people that can be appointed to the role.

The bill had given the Public Service Commission the leeway to determine the number.

But SRC holds that the numbers will have an impact on the wage bill.

“It is appropriate to provide for the maximum number in the Bill,” SRC CEO Anne Gitau said in a memorandum to MPs.

“For purposes of grading the job and setting remuneration and benefits for the position, the job responsibilities should be clearly spelt out.”

SRC had projected that the CASs were to earn Sh459,113 in basic salary, Sh165,000 for house allowance and Sh155,000 in salary market adjustment, bringing the total to about Sh780,000 per month.

The 50 individuals that President Ruto had hired would have cost taxpayers Sh468 million every year.

Azimio through Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said the position was declared unconstitutional and remains as such, unless it is reversed by the Court of Appeal.

“In the absence of any contrary pronouncement by the Courts of law, such creation remains unconstitutional. Any proposed creation of such office through statute at this point is in bad faith and total defiance of the courts,” he said.

In a memo to the joint committee of Justice and Legal Affairs and that of Internal Security, Wandayi also said the new law is not clear on the hierarchy between CAS, cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries.

“Responsibilities assigned to them [CAS] seem to be vague at best and ambiguous at worst,” he stated.

Mzalendo argued that the proposed law does not seek to align the posts to the constitution and also would stage an additional burden to the taxpayer.

“It is therefore essential that a substantial justification and rationale for the Bill is provided as there is an already existing strain on mwananchi’s back when comes to finances and a concern over our coffers,” executive director Caroline Gaita said.

In a memo to Parliament, Mzalendo argued that “laws should be made with a clear purpose in mind and that the legislators should consider the intended effects of the law and whether it effectively addresses the problem it seeks to remedy.”

President William Ruto during swearing in of Chief Administrative Secretaries at State House, Nairobi on March 23, 2023.
President William Ruto during swearing in of Chief Administrative Secretaries at State House, Nairobi on March 23, 2023.
Image: PCS
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