EACC probes Kisii Public Service Board over irregular hiring of staff

Kisii Governor Simba Arati (second right) ,his deputy Robert Monda (ight) and other county senior staff receive a report from Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) Executive Director Quresha Abdullahi (second left) and IHRM National Chairman Odero Phillip (left) at Gusii Stadium on February 15, 2023.

The Kisii County Public Service Board (PSB) is facing a probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over the irregular hiring of staff. The Kisii County Assembly has also filed a petition seeking its disbandment.

In the petition before the Assembly, the petitioner Mr Benson Atika wants the House to dissolve the board over gross misconduct.

The board’s chairperson Nancy Nyamwange, members John Machuka, Judy Omare, Jackson Bogonko and Patrick Mogusu are expected to defend themselves in the assembly before a substantive decision is made.

The County Government Act provides that the PSB members can be removed from office by way of petition to the Assembly, 

The chairperson of PSB and its members are appointed by the governor and approved by the Assembly.

 “There was a serious violation of the Constitution of Kenya including Chapter six, the written law of the County Governments Act, 2012, Public Finance Act, 2013 and the Regulations thereof (2015). There was gross misconduct in the performance of their duties while carrying out the functions of their office,” stated the petition.

The petitioner further explained that the board had deliberately circumvented the law on recruitment by converting purported casual employment to contract and subsequently permanent and pensionable terms.

 “The board has promoted employees without following the laid down laws and regulations. It has also failed to provide for human resource and career development practice. Compliance with the binding constitutional and statutory principles of public finance while discharging their mandate is also an issue,” said Mr Atika in his petition.

He also accused the board of failing to file and publish mandatory reports before the County Assembly as required by law.

One of the issues raised by the petitioner is the employment of people who are above the retirement age of 60 years.

One example is that of a 66-year-old man who was in December 2021 re-engaged pursuant to the decision of the PSB as a casual on contract terms.

Another man aged 70 years old was engaged on contract terms and received Sh15,000 per month.

There are more examples for 60, 62, and 63-year-old staff employed on a casual basis yet they do not offer any specialized or skilled work.

Some of the contracts run up to the end of 2024.

“It is apparent from the foregoing particulars that the respondents have collectively and individually breached Article 251 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya,” read the petition.

Additionally, the board is accused of recruiting more staff than the number officially advertised.

In one case, on December 10, 2021, the board advertised 102 vacancies but ended up placing 219 employees on the payroll.

Ms Nyamwange, the board chairperson, is accused of extending her non-renewable contract.

She was initially appointed as a board member of the Kisii PSB on December 11, 2019, for a non-renewable six-year term.

She, however, accepted the appointment as the chairperson and subsequently discharged her duties as such, thereby breaching the law.

“Her acceptance of the fresh six non-renewable terms and continued engagement as chair is not only an act of impunity but in breach of Articles 10 and 73 of the constitution on leadership,” read the petition.

The anti-graft commission wants the board to furnish them with certified copies of the personnel files of its staff.

“Our officers will be available to receive the documents and record relevant statements,” said EACC in its latest investigations launched in February 2022.

The probe follows the declaration of ghost workers in the Kisii County Assembly payroll by Governor Simba Arati.