- Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta created the CAS position primarily to appease close allies and political losers.
- His predecessor, William Ruto, has not only kept the positions intact, but has also increased their number to 50.
I once wrote about a Cabinet Administrative Secretary who did nothing in his office but doodle on his desk all day. It was satire based on what I believed and still believe to be, in fact, true of these CASs.
Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta created the CAS position primarily to appease close allies and political losers.
His predecessor, William Ruto, has not only kept the positions intact, but has also increased their number to 50, eliciting a challenge from a Kenyan in the diaspora, Eliud Karanja Matindi.
Matindi is challenging the President’s decision to nominate 50 persons for approval by Parliament to be appointed to the office of CAS, when only 23 positions were created and recruited by the Parliamentary Service Commission.
The High Court has certified Matindi’s case as urgent and the litigation of the case is ongoing. However, the CASs were already sworn in and are either busy at work or doodling on their desks.
The appointments of these CASs is only one aspect of the larger issue that is eating away at the core of our economic wellbeing and that is being suffocated by a bloated government.
The much-heralded passage and promulgation of the 2010 Constitution was a great thing that brought excitement and hope to Kenyans. For the first time since even before independence, Kenyans felt they could finally breath.
The liberating nature of the constitution is for sure something to behold, but 10 years on, there is still something amiss. Chief among these is the cost of the new political dispensation. Do we really need 47 counties with their own bloated wage bills?
Do we need 50 CASs whose work, if any, can easily be done by civil servants who do the work, anyway?
Do we need 22 Cabinet Secretaries? The US, a country with more than 331 million people and a gross domestic product we should not even bother comparing, only has 15 CSs.
Put aside the numeric comparison, the quality of those appointed to CS position in Kenya in the least raises eyebrows, and at worst outright disgust. Just as the CAS position is inarguably a parking lot for mostly political rejects who are well connected, the CS position has quickly returned to the old where politics, not competence, reigned supreme in appointments.
All that spells doom for hoi polloi who continue to suffer the pain of the high cost of living they cannot afford and abject poverty for others.
To stave off protests called by the opposition, President Ruto has called for bipartisan talks, which temporarily got derailed but are back on track. While this is commendable and desirable progress, President can do even better and establish a constitutional of review commission.
The CRC should comprise men and women of great and unquestionable integrity whose sole purpose would be to identify shortfalls in the constitution and make recommendations on what to do to fix the shortfalls.
One of those shortfalls no doubt must be the bloated government. According to the latest available data from Central Bank of Kenya, the country’s wage bill stood at a record Sh529.03 billion for the year that ended June 2022. One can only imagine the wage bill has gone even higher and therefore worse in the current year.
How has that benefitted the ordinary citizen — mama mbogas or boda boda riders — to use the parlance from 2022 election. Not at all.
This is why the constitution needs to be reviewed to address this wage bill boondoggle, which — if not fixed —would alone suffocate the country to near death.
Needless to say, this can only be accomplished through a referendum as no one in their right senses would expect Parliament to ever vote to cut its own salaries and benefits.
To make that fact known to all, when the Salaries and Remuneration Commission tried to scrap sitting allowances for MPs, they were met with calls by the same MPs to have them scrapped instead.
We can do better.
It is time to review the constitution and fix this and many other shortfalls in it.