Tribal appointments divisive

President Ruto

President William Ruto.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Most of the tribal appointments are not done to develop the country but create ‘eating’ opportunities for kith and kin.

Africa has huge problems compared to the developed continents, but it equally has great potential for growth. However, one of the things that stunts its growth is tribalism. Because tribalism cannot be questioned as it has high walls to lean on in the name of a president or prime minister. It is arrogant and cares little for the law.

Tribalism will expand its clan base with impunity as it creates space for the clan to ‘eat’ alone. It is selfish and operates like no other ethnic communities exist within the country.

It is greedy for it wants all for itself and nothing for others. In a democratic country such as Kenya, it is painful to watch as tribalism expands its tentacles to just about every government post.

The Constitution, at Chapter 13, lays the grounds for equality when it comes to appointment of staff to the government and its various agencies. Of interest is Article 232(1)(h) and (i), where it states that the appointments must be “representation of Kenya’s diverse communities” Section 232(1)(i) says the Values and Principles of Public Service must afford “adequate and equal opportunities for appointment, training, and advancement, at all levels of the public service, of i) men and women, ii) the members of all ethnic groups and iii) persons with disabilities.

Nowhere does the Constitution say one ethnic community must dominate all government posts—as we see happening.

Tribal appointments are nothing new to Kenya. It has been the bone of contention for decades and many tribal-leaning governance structures have looked to their ethnic communities to fill the posts within. Like many nepo-babies of Hollywood, many of the tribal appointments do not add value to the organisation or country.

It is a style of appointments that inculcates laziness as people look to their tribal heads to pull strings and find them work; not necessarily on merit or qualification. If there is any qualification required, it is shared DNA.

Hence, tribalism breeds underdevelopment because of the low calibre of people appointed to organisations that perhaps would have benefited from qualified individuals instead.

Tribalism has been the stumbling block to accountability in the country. Most of the tribal appointments are not done to develop the country but create ‘eating’ opportunities for kith and kin. It has ,therefore, become difficult to bring corrupt people to book because their ethnic communities comes out guns blazing to protect a thieving relative and/or the powerful tribal heads pull strings to kill corruption cases involving one of their own.

Tribalism festers corruption. If it is difficult to enhance accountability due to tribalism; it can only get worse as the tribal appointments continue with impunity. Anti-corruption measures mean nothing to tribalists. They don’t see the country as the entity but the ethnic community as the entity and hence nationhood becomes just a piped dream.

Building a country with tribalism in mind is akin to anchoring a nation’s foundation on just one tiny brick. It will someday crumble, as we saw in Rwanda in the ’90s and in many other African countries affected by tribalism. It creates resentment towards the favoured and, consequently, lack of harmony among communities.

Instability in government is borne from tribal appointments. The perennial management vacuum lays the ground for corruption and other abuses of power. The tribal appointments themselves are abuse of power. No one can dare challenge an appointment made on a Presidential complimentary slip in a country ruled by impunity.

Sadly, ours is heading that way, given the disregard of the constitution on equality on state appointments. The many faces of Kenya expected in government offices is slowly becoming just one cloned from a single ethnic community. Blood is, indeed, thicker than water, so the saying goes, but we must remember that no ethnic community is an island and cannot exist alone or in harmony if the rights of all other ethnic communities are not considered when it comes to state appointments.

Parliament bears responsibility when it comes to tribalism. MPs abandon their oversight role when it comes to state appointments to appease the powers that be or benefit their political parties and relatives. One wonders why they bothered to establish laws if they don’t follow them!

Voters from other ethnic communities, who equally deserve to be represented and share in the national cake, are being let down. No political party can vote itself in based on tribal votes in a country of 50 million people. We all have a stake in the country—not just the few ethnic communities benefitting the most from state appointments.

Tribal appointments are a breach of the Constitution. They create an unnecessary instability in government and in the country as other ethnic communities are fired to make way for a few. This doesn’t auger well for the country’s prosperity as too much time is wasted appeasing an ethnic community than building a nation and economy. Stop tribalism, it is divisive and impoverishes! There are enough resources for all Kenyans.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected]. @kdiguyo