Let state firms be fair

What you need to know:

  • The Kenya Seed Company has been fingered for lacking ethnic diversity among its staff and as well as gender balance in its board of directors.
  • A state firm or agency is not meant to benefit only the people in whose region it is located or for those who are well-connected.

A consistent campaign to ensure that the face of Kenya is reflected in the public sector is commendable. These organisations are meant for the benefit of all Kenyans irrespective of their social status, ethnicity, race, colour or any other consideration.

Government ministries, agencies, parastatals and other organisations are fully funded by the taxpayer to deliver vital services to the people. It is disappointing, however, that some of the people mandated to run the parastatals have failed to even-handedly operate them. They have become a nuisance and a needless burden that must be dispensed with.

Watchdog organisations monitoring the conduct and performance of government agencies and parastatals deserve praise for pointing out the shortcomings for remedial action to be taken. They always point out biased recruitment of staff.

The Kenya Seed Company (KSC), for instance, has been fingered for lacking ethnic diversity among its staff and gender balance in its board of directors. Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has, in a report on the accounts of the seed maker for 2019/20, shown that about 58 per cent of the 351 of its permanent employees are from one community.

A state firm or agency is not meant to benefit only the local or well-connected people. The Constitution guarantees equality and the right of any Kenya to work, live and travel anywhere in the country. Mere location of a parastatal should not give the locals an undue advantage over fellow Kenyans from other regions. Jobs and tenders must be shared out fairly.

The law is clear that no public establishment shall have a third of its staff from the same ethnic community. We hope Ms Gathungu will wield the broom more firmly and relentless and bring out the rot in other state agencies and parastatals.

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