President Ruto seeks public participation over CAS role

President Ruto

 President William Ruto now seeks public participation on the role of Chief Administrative Secretaries.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

President William Ruto now seeks public participation on the establishment of the controversial posts of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS).

In a move which seemed to be geared towards finding a solution to the ongoing scramble for the Hustler's cake ahead of unveiling of Cabinet,  the public has been asked to submit their views in writing to the Secretary of Public Service Commission (PSC) before October 6, 2022.

"The PSC has invited members of the public to submit their views on the proposed establishment of the position of CAS. The views in writing should be addressed to the Secretary, Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30095, 00100, Nairobi or hand delivered to the Commission’s offices at Commission House,   not later than October 6, 2022," reads a memo to the press release.

The Commission says that it was acting on the behalf of the head of state who had  proposed establishing the CAS positions in accordance with the provisions of Article 132(4)(a) of the Constitution.

“The President has proposed to establish the offices of Chief Administrative Secretary which will be offices in the public service and will be under the direction of Cabinet Secretaries,” said Anthony Muchiri, PSC Chairperson on Wednesday.

Unlike during ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration where individuals who held the CAS positions never went through the recruitment process by PSC,  the Commission says that it will this time do it through a competitive process.

"The Commission will recommend persons to hold the position of Chief Administrative Secretary for appointment through a competitive recruitment process that shall culminate in a nomination by the President and vetting by the National Assembly," said PSC chairman in a statement released to the newsrooms.

In what looked like a corrective measure to the wrongs of the Jubilee regime where it was not clear on the roles of the CAS,  PSC says that they will be responding to touchy issues within their  ministries.

"The functions of CAS will entail responding to issues touching on the portfolio assigned to the office; Providing liaison with the National Assembly and Senate; Providing liaison with County Governments on matters of concurrent mandate and common interest; Providing inter-ministerial /sectoral co-ordination," Mr Muchiri said.

Other roles of CAS will include representing the Cabinet Secretary (CS) at any meeting as instructed by the CS and executing any other duties and responsibilities specifically assigned to the office by the CS in furtherance of the interests of the ministry,, said Mr Muchiri.

Genuine degree

Those who will be appointed as CAS will demonstrate that they hold a genuine University degree from an institution recognised by Commission of University Education (CUE) as well as be able to manage what Mr Muchiri describes as 'political interface'.

"Interested applicants will be required to possess a Bachelor’s degree from a recognised university and excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They will also be expected to demonstrate ability to manage the administrative-political interface, articulate public policies and programmes,
and undertake complex and high-pressure tasks that require engagements with multi-institutions and other public officers/offices among other," he said.

This comes at a time when Dr Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua are faced with a delicate balance between interests of politicians who helped them ascend to power and newcomers as well as little known technocrats as Kenyans expect.

Having promised that his Cabinet will have 50 per cent women, President Ruto also faces a Herculean task in fulfilling the commitment.

On April 2021,  the High Court termed the appointment of 29 CAS done by former Head of State as unconstitutional but later on Justice Anthony Mrima suspended the order saying it would disrupt the orderly operations of the ministries during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In July the same year,  Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki  secured a temporary relief in a court battle that involved Mr Kenyatta's decision to create the position of CAS and failure to subject CSs reappointed in 2017 to fresh vetting and approval by Parliament.

The Court of Appeal had once again suspended implementation of the High Court judgment that declared the President's decision unconstitutional.

A majority of the then  CASs were 2017 poll losers such as Ababu Namwaba, Gideon Mung'aro, Rachel Shebesh, Alex Mwiru, Linah Chebii, Ken Obura, Hussein Dado and Simon Kachapin among others.

Activist and now Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah had filed a case in 2018 arguing that the President by creating the office of CAS without consideration of the costs of running it, erred in law.

He faulted the former President for hand picking and appointing persons to be CASs without subjecting them to a merit based competitive recruitment process.

"By creating the office of the CAS without consideration for the costs of manning and running it, article 201 (d) of the constitution which categorically provides that public money shall be used in a prudent and responsible way, was violated," argued Mr Omtatah.

He also said Mr Kenyatta violated Article 155 (3) (a) of the Constitution which provides that he shall nominate a person for appointment as Principal secretary from among persons recommended by the Public Service Commission.


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