Make vetting for top jobs count

The only reason tough vetting rules have been set for top public sector jobs is so that the very best candidates get to occupy those positions. However, this vital exercise has been turned into a farce in recent years because of meddling, especially by some influential people.

These jobs end up being used to reward the cronies of top leaders and sycophants or party functionaries. It is a shame that this is happening when people expect fairness in public appointments. Several years ago, the mantra was that the face of Kenya must be reflected in the hiring of Cabinet and Principal secretaries and the heads of government departments and agencies.

The quashing by the Employment and Labour Relations Court of the appointment of Kenya Rural Roads director Philemon Kandie after finding that his recruitment was marred by illegality and impropriety could not have come at a better time. There has been some grumbling that the appointments are being manipulated to favour a few communities. 

Judge James Rika found that his selection was predetermined by the board, with Kerra failing to comply with the requirement that such jobs be advertised at least 21 days before the closing date. This is just one example, but there has been scepticism about the vetting even by House teams of candidates for top jobs.

This latest decision gives hope that it is possible to restore public confidence in the vetting of chief executives of parastatals and other government agencies. People seeking such jobs are required to make detailed declarations of their wealth, political affiliations and ties or relationships with senior public officers. 

This was meant to guide the National Assembly and the Senate to get the right people for the jobs. It is the only way to restore the integrity of public institutions by blocking questionable characters from occupying those high offices. Courts should help to ensure that vetting is not compromised.