What you need to know:
- President William Ruto's Kalenjin and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's Kikuyu communities took a combined 788 posts in the June recruitment exercise.
- Of the 1,406 recruits, only 15 are disabled people due to the nature of the job, which is physically demanding.
The taxman has admitted that there was intense political interference and horse-trading in the recent recruitment of Revenue Service Assistants (RSAs), which saw two dominant ethnic communities take 57 per cent of the 1,406 vacancies.
President William Ruto's Kalenjin and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's Kikuyu communities took a combined 788 posts in the June recruitment exercise.
Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) acting commissioner-general Rispah Simiyu said 403 Kalenjins and 385 Kikuyus were hired as RSAs, representing 56.8 per cent of the total recruitment. The balance of 48.2 per cent was shared by other communities, with Luhya getting 134 slots, Luo (76), Kenyan Somali (71), Kamba (64) and Meru (55).
Others were Kisii (43), Maasai (42), Embu (18), Borana (12), Teso (12), Mijikenda (11) and Turkana (11).
"I agree that this is a sensitive issue. There could have been political interests and pressure. But there were certain ways of ensuring that there was moderation in the recruitment process," said Ms Simuyu. "Some communities were deliberately recruited ... to ensure that certain communities were taken care of."
The Senate Committee on National Cohesion, Equal Opportunities and Regional Integration said the recruitment exercise was "unacceptable" . Committee chairman Mohammed Chute, who is from the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance, said the recruitment did not reflect the diversity of Kenya's ethnic groups.
"I [am a member of] the UDA [United Democratic Alliance] party and I am not happy with the latest recruitment by the KRA. I know there was politics involved, but this is bad politics," Mr Chute told KRA officials when they appeared before the lawmakers to explain the constitutional requirements of ethnic diversity, the two-thirds gender rule and the five per cent threshold for inclusion of people with disabilities in public institutions.
"Do you mean that only two ethnicities qualify? In your next recruitment, I direct you to balance all ethnicities to reflect the face of Kenya,"Mr Chute said.
He added that the recruitment process was designed to exclude certain communities as the two ethnicities took up 56 per cent of the positions, leaving the remaining 43 ethnic groups to fight for the remaining slots.
"I don't know where this country is heading to. This confirms the slogan that Kenya is a shareholding company. Some people have abused their power in this recruitment, which is unacceptable," he said.
Mr Chute and his committee members took Ms Simiyu to task to explain why she had recruited more Kalenjins than Kikuyus and Luhyas, contrary to the 2019 census which ranks Kikuyus and Luhyas as the two most populous tribes in Kenya's 47.6 million population.
According to the 2019 population and housing census, the Kikuyu community makes up 17 per cent, Luhya 14 per cent, Kalenjin 13 per cent, Luos 11 per cent and Kamba 4.6 million.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2019 census report shows that the Kikuyu community has 8.14 million people, followed by the Luhya with 6.82 million. Kalenjins come third with 6.35 million, followed by Luos with 5 million, Kamba with 4.6 million, Somalis 2.7 million and Kisiis with 2.7 million.
Others are the Mijikenda with 2.4 million, Meru (1.9 million) and Maasai (1.1 million). The five least populous tribes in the country are the Dahalo (575), Kenyan American (596), Gosha (685), El Molo (1,104) and Konso (1,299).
"There were communities that did not respond to our advertisements for the RSA jobs, even though we engaged the county governments," said Ms Simiyu.
Ruth Nyamoko, the KRA deputy commissioner for human resources, said the Kalenjin and Kikuyu made up the highest number of applicants for the RSA recruitment, with a total of 12,117 applications.
The recruits are currently undergoing two months of training on VAT, excise and paramilitary training. Of the 1,406 recruits, only 15 are disabled people due to the nature of the job, which is physically demanding.
"The paramilitary requirements were made in good faith," said Ms Nyamoko.
The revelations come against the backdrop of a bill that seeks to compel public bodies to submit an annual report to Parliament on compliance with diversity and equal opportunities standards in recruitment.
The Public Service (Values and Principles) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, sponsored by North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood, seeks to enforce the constitutional provisions of Article 232 and Article 10, which emphasise representation and equal opportunities for all citizens.