President William Ruto is staring at yet another appointments crisis after 5,000 political bigwigs and August election losers applied for chief administrative secretary (CAS) positions amid a court battle and growing concerns about a bloated government.
Already, President Ruto has created nine new State departments — which will be manned by nine new principal secretaries — and has created 30 new State institutions, raising the number to 443.
This, even as it emerged that the Public Service Commission (PSC) was yet to sit and process the shortlisting of the CAS applicants, saying it is still working on the backlog it had suspended while processing the PS applications.
The Nation yesterday established that appointment of PSs was given urgency by the commission due to its role in the coordination and implementation of government projects and State departments as well as being the authority to incur expenditure holders.
The PSC confirmed there were “over 5,000 applications” for CAS, but refused to give the names of those eyeing the posts.
The hopefuls were required to have applied by October 27.
PSC chairman Anthony Muchiri said they are yet to start the process of shortlisting. “PS applications were treated with a lot of urgency because it is the engine of any ministry. When the commission was processing PS posts, there were several requests we had received from various ministries as well as parastatals, which had not been processed and that is what the commission is currently dealing with,” said Mr Muchiri, through the commission’s head of communication Browne Kutswa.
“The board has not sat to diarise the CAS shortlisting and that tells you that process is far from starting,” he added.
The commission also dismissed claims that the shortlisting of applicants had been withheld due to orders issued by Justice Monica Mbaru, saying the issues raised about the establishment of the CAS position do not hold.
“The shortlisting has not been delayed by the court order because what was raised in that particular order was about the establishment of CAS post but when it was issued, the office already existed,” said Mr Kutswa.
Some of those believed to be eyeing the CAS posts are United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman Johnson Muthama, former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, former Soy MP Caleb Kositany, former Migori governor Okoth Obado, and former Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala.
Others are former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko, former Laikipia woman representative Cate Waruguru, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru and former nominated senator Millicent Omanga.
Others eyeing the posts are former MPs Daniel Rono (Keiyo South), Tecla Tum (Nandi), Cornelly Serem (Aldai), Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), among others.
Former Kirinyaga woman representative Purity Ngirici is likely to land a CAS post, especially after she withdrew her petition against Governor Anne Waiguru’s election.
Recently, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua hinted that “Johnny-come-latelies” in the Kenya Kwanza administration will be rewarded only after the coalition's founders get their share of the cake.
Besides the CAS post, the other remaining post is that of the ambassador.
This comes after it emerged that the commission secretary, Mr Simon Rotich, in a reply to a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya, says the commission followed due process in establishing the office, including inviting views from the public.
The second headache for President Ruto on the CAS post, however, is the wage bill and a bloated government.
President Ruto has already named 22 Cabinet secretaries, made four Cabinet-level appointments, and nominated 51 principal secretaries (PS), nine more than his predecessor.
Taxpayers will fork out Sh412 million in salaries over the next five years for the nine extra PSs. The PSs will also draw more money in housing, travel and entertainment allowances, medical cover, and other perks.
Dr Ruto’s 22 CSs will gobble up Sh23 million every month in salaries for the next five years. They will also enjoy other payments in the form of housing, travel, and entertainment allowances, medical cover, and others.
While President Kenyatta had 61 embassies and consulates around the world, President Ruto has increased the number to 66, meaning the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will shoot up.
He has also increased the number of State institutions from 413 to 443. The 30 extra parastatals will also need capitation from the National Treasury.
With the PSC grading CAS at CSG 3, which is equivalent to job group V, it means that they will earn Sh765,188 each in gross monthly salary. If President Ruto appoints 22 CASs, the taxpayer will have to fork out Sh1 billion in the next five years.
And with the additional nine PSs, the new pay structure the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) announced will cost Sh5.4 million more every month or Sh64.2 million annually for the next five years. This will also apply in the place of CAS, or even more according to a source at the PSC.
For those hoping to get a CAS slot, the wait, it seems, will have to be even longer, even assuming the shortlisting is hurried.
From the date the CAS shortlisting process will commence after approval by the commission’s board, it could take more than a week to complete it.
It would then be advertised in the local dailies thereafter, the PSC will have a week to start interviews, and this means that it can take around a month for the names of successful candidates to reach President Ruto.
With the National Assembly set to break for Christmas, if the commission concludes the process before Christmas, it means that those who will have been nominated by the Head of State will be vetted next year when Parliament resumes session or unless a special sitting is called.
Parliament will be breaking for recess from December 1, 2022, to February 13, 2023.