Kikuyu, Kalenjin dominate public service jobs, NCIC report shows

NCIC Chairman Samuel Kobia, Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali

NCIC Chairman Samuel Kobia (left), Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali and Tharaka Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya launch the Ethnic and Diversity Audit of the County Public Service at Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi on Friday, November 17, 2023. 

Photo credit: Boniface Bogita | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ten ethnic communities have taken 89.55 percent of county jobs.
  • The report reveals imbalance and skewed employment towards the dominant ethnic communities in respective counties.

The Kalenjin and the Kikuyu are dominating jobs at the counties, according to a state report.

The Kalenjin community has the largest share of jobs-per-ethnic tribe (15.83 per cent), closely followed by the Agikuyu who come second at 15.77 per cent of county jobs, according to the Ethnic and Diversity Audit Report 2023 of all the 47 county governments by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The report released Friday established that employment is not only imbalanced but skewed towards the dominant ethnic communities in respective counties as it indicates that 10 tribes have taken 89.55 per cent of all the jobs in counties while the remaining left for others to scramble for.

The shocking revelations indicate that Luhya (11.60 per cent), Luo (9.81), Kamba (8.88), Kisii (7.68), Meru (4.88), Mijikenda (4.60), Somali (4.42), Maasai (4.11) while non-Kenyans make up for 0.01 per cent.

On the other hand, the report says, only four minority ethnic groups –Somali 4.31 per cent, Maasai 4.0 per cent, Turkana (1.92) and Taita (1.56) – are the most represented in County Public Service (CPS).

This, the report explains, validates the fact that minority groups are still far from achieving adequate representation in county employment post 10 years of devolution.

“This therefore, calls for interrogation of the existing policies and interventions towards reducing the gap on marginalised and minority communities, their effectiveness and the emerging gaps or challenges,” the report reads.

The study audited the employment of staff in the CPS as per the required legal provisions. Out of the 47 counties, only 13 have complied with the required legal provisions.

The County Governments Act (CGA) 2012 requires county governments to ensure inclusivity in public resource distribution. As such, the CPS is obligated to preserve 30 per cent of entry-level positions to the non-dominant communities in their county. By law, counties who employ more than 70 per cent of their workforce from one community are deemed to contravention of the constitution.

The report revealed that only 13 counties (28 per cent) out of the 47 complied with law as regards to hiring in the devolved unit. Narok, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Embu, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru, Isiolo, Mombasa, Nairobi, Tana River, Lamu and Marsabit, the report says, are compliant.

“This is a testament that counties can indeed comply with the principles of diversity and inclusivity,” the ethnic diversity audit of the county public service 2023 reads.

Conversely, the report indicated, 34 counties (72 per cent) have contravened the CGA 2012 by employing more than 70 per cent of their staff from the dominant ethnic community.

The report observed that diversity in the workplace brings unique perspectives, skills, and experiences, which contribute to organisational success. The report further says, inclusion of diverse teams not only promotes a sense of belonging and equality, which contributes to increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

But it also tends to ensure innovation and effective in problem-solving compared to homogeneous teams, and are better equipped to adapt and respond to ever-changing environments.

However, the overall employment data points to the fact that 29 minority communities hold less than 1 per cent of jobs in county public service. Another six –, Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kamba and Kisii –dominate between 7.5 per cent to 15.6 per cent.

Recommending that counties should strive to deliberately develop and implement diversity and equity plans as a remedy to the growing levels of inequalities between dominant and minority communities, NCIC advises counties to “adopt strategies such as targeted recruitment, in order to increase diversity levels, as well as bring on board the underrepresented minority groups.”

The study further assessed the percentage of jobs taken by the ethnic communities of Kenya vis-à-vis their representation as per the 2019 Housing and Population Census Report. And, the findings point to the fact that some communities including the Kalenjin, Kisii, Meru, and Maasai have consumed more than their representation in the country.

The devolved unit has a total workforce of 184,876, making one of the largest employers in the country. Of this, 47 per cent are male, 53 per cent are female. And employees with disabilities (PWDs) are only 2089 (1.14 per cent of the total).

Nairobi county is the biggest employer with a workforce of 13,513, followed by Kakamega (7,087), Bungoma (6,477), Kisii (5,965), Machakos (5,777) and Nakuru (5,681).

Recognising that counties are diverse employers, the study investigated how counties create opportunities for other ethnic groups in their public service. Overall, it established that 32 counties have employed more than 20 ethnic groups, with Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kilifi and Marsabit employing more than 30 ethnic groups.

In an inter-ethnic society such as Kenya, the report says, it is essential to promote diversity inclusion and equal opportunities for all citizens. While some cosmopolitan counties such as Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Trans Nzoia, Busia, and Narok have complied, others like Kajiado, Kisumu, Kiambu, Laikipia, Machakos, Uasin Gishu, and Kericho despite their ethnic diversity and demographics have failed to comply with the employment requirements for individuals from non-dominant ethnic communities.

Out of the available 13 cosmopolitan counties including the four cities, seven have contravened the law by employing more than 70% from the dominant ethnic community, the report says.

A closer look at the data further revealed that 71.42 per cent of the seven contravened cities and cosmopolitan counties had a noticeable absence of individuals from the minority communities in positions of influence, decision-making roles, and senior management positions.

Out of the seven counties that have contravened CGA 2012, the report indicated, only Kajiado and Laikipia have included non-dominant ethnic groups in senior level management, while the remaining four counties portray a dominant outlook.

“Such exclusionary practices perpetuate ethnic imbalance, hinder social cohesion, slows down socio-economic development and prevents fair representation in local governance structures,” the report concludes.

According to the report, new appointments across the 47 counties since 2016 to date stand at 98,299. The report further found that the “new appointments have contravened the law with 34 out of the 47 county governments according more than 30 per cent of the vacancies at entry level to members of ethnic groups that are not from the dominant communities.”

Further analyses of the findings revealed that the highest number of new employees in the county public service staff are from Kenya’s dominant ethnic groups, namely Kikuyu (15.9 per cent), Kalenjin (14.1 per cent), Luhya (13.8 per cent), Kamba (8.64 per cent), Luo (8.54 per cent) and Kisii (6.54 per cent).

The minority communities have been sidelined with less than 1 per cent representation of the new hires, the report established.

“The appointments continue to skew employment in county Public Service in favour of dominant communities while entrenching marginalisation of minority communities,” the report reads. “This implies that in spite of the existing law and the numerous awareness strategies that have been employed within the seven years (2016-2023), new recruitments continue to contravene the provisions of the law.”

“The board has more than nine policies that guard towards ensuring compliance with the hiring standards stipulated in the Constitution,” the chairperson of Marsabit CPS board Ambrose Harugurah said of how Marsabit CPS managed to ensure inclusivity and diversity in the hiring.

The report recommended that the County Public Service Boards should prepare and implement a county employment equity plan for purposes of eliminating ethnic imbalance.

The NCIC has further implored county assemblies to take their oversight role seriously by ensuring that the county Executives enforce ethnic diversity at the point of new recruitments and promotions.

They should submit periodic reports on diversity and inclusion to the Senate to ensure accountability, NCIC said.

“To embrace more PWDs in county employment, it is necessary to redesign or modify existing offices for improved accessibility,” NCIC report advised.

It added: “This includes wheelchair ramps, wider doorways, accessible restroom facilities, as well as incorporate assistive technologies screen readers, voice recognition software, and other adaptive tools to accommodate different disabilities.”