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Hundreds to lose their jobs in county governments

 

Hundreds of county government officers are set to lose their jobs immediately the elected governors are sworn into office.

County Executive Committee members, chiefs of staff and advisors will be the main casualties in the changes to be effected in the 47 counties.

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Workers on contract that were not hired by the County Public Service Boards will also be affected in the changes expected once the governors are sworn into office.

Security details for governors are also set to change since those serving the first term will have to get their own officers from the national government.

For the 22 governors who retained their seats in the August 8 polls, they will be required to advertise for the cabinet positions even if they intend to retain the same people who previously helped them run their governments.

Some of the counties that will see personal officers sent packing include Nairobi, Bungoma, Meru, Kitui, Kajiado, Kirinyaga, Bomet, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kisumu, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Wajir, Laikipia, Baringo, Lamu, West Pokot, Vihiga, Tharaka Nithi, Isiolo and Nyandarua.

Most of the governors serving their second terms in office told Standard Saturday that they will name their cabinets after being sworn into office.

“This is a matter that will be decided later. There will only be changes depending on how each minister performed,” said Mandera Governor-elect Ali Roba.

The three categories of staff in the county governments are personal officers, state officers and public officers.

Former chairman of the defunct Transition Authority Kinuthia Wamwangi said the slot for personal officers was created to give governors powers to appoint trusted people who can help them run their governments.

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“I created the positions because being a Chief Executive Officer of the county, the governor needs to be informed in all areas by senior people that help in dealing with policy issues,” he said.

TA created eight positions under the personal officers’ category. They are Chief of Staff, director of communication, economic advisor, legal advisor, political advisor, director of information technology and e-government, personal assistant and a receptionist.

The position for Chief of Staff was created mainly because County Secretaries who are public officers seconded by the central government cannot make political statements on behalf of governors.

“A County Secretary is a civil servant and cannot make political statements and that is why when a governor leaves office, he has to go with his personal officers,” Wamwangi said.

When governors took over office in 2013, they appointed advisors to help them develop their jurisdictions, a team that 25 new comers will replace while the 22 who retained their seats are to decide on whether there is need to do replacements.

In Nairobi County, incumbent Governor Evans Kidero had advisors whom he relied on in managing the city. They included Mr John Osogo advised him on political issues, Dr Festo Fadamula (Planning, Environmental and Urban Renewal) and Mr Martin Ogindo (Economic Planning, Finance and Strategy).

On the issue of CECs, Wamwangi said it will be difficult for governors serving their first terms in office to inherit the teams that worked in the counties before the August polls.

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According to Article 179(7), if a vacancy arises in the office of the county governor, CECs appointed with the approval of the assembly cease to hold office.

“You cannot come and adopt a minister whom you are not sure whether he/she will work with you. Just like what happened when the court nullified Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga’s 2013 election and he had to go with his CECs, all CECs in the 47 counties will go home,” Wamwangi said.

In the Rasanga case, he re-advertised the CEC positions when he won the by-election and those nominated had to be vetted by the County Assemblies before making approvals.

Rasanga told Saturday Standard on Sunday that he will constitute his cabinet for the third time immediately after being sworn into office.

“Being in the cabinet is not a cup of tea. The CECs had performance contracts but they did not perform to the people’s expectations and that is why probably one or two may make it back to the cabinet,” he said.

Rasanga added that for a governor to perform without any interference there is need to involve stakeholders such as area Members of Parliament in constituting a cabinet.

According to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, a county minister is entitled to a monthly salary of Sh300,000 and each will take home Sh4.3 million as a send-off package.

The current scenario requires that all the 47 governors advertise a maximum of nine CEC positions per county and then forward lists of nominees to the county assemblies for vetting and approvals as per the County Government Act and Article 179(2) (b) of the Constitution.

They are to constitute the county executive committee portfolio structures to respond to the functions and competencies assigned to and transferred to their respective counties.

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In forming the county cabinet, Section 35 of the County Government Act requires that the composition of the executive committee reflects the community and cultural diversity of the county.

A County Assembly has powers to reject the list if the governor fails to take into consideration representation of the minorities/ marginalized groups and communities, and the two thirds gender rule.

Once appointed, the cabinet member shall be accountable to the governor in the exercise of their powers and performance of their duties and responsibilities.

The law also gives the governor powers to dismiss a member of his cabinet on grounds of incompetence, abuse of office, gross misconduct, failure to attend three consecutive meetings of the committee without written authority of the governor and if one is physically or mentally incapacitated.

The assembly also has powers to sack a CEC if a Member of County Assembly supported by at least one third of all MCAs proposes a motion requiring the governor to sack the officer.

In Nairobi, CECs appointed by Kidero will have to apply for the jobs afresh when advertised.

They include the CEC for finance Gregory Mwakanongo, Christopher Khaemba (Urban Planning), Anna Othoro (Trade), Patrick Odongo (Urban Renewal and Housing), Peter Kimori (Environment), Mohammed Abdullahi (Transport), Anne Lokidor (Education, Youth and Sports), Dr Benard Muia (Health) and Mercy Kamau (Public Service Management and Reforms).

Officers seconded to the 47 counties by the National Government as public officers manage dockets such as lands, urban planning, health services, agriculture, trade, environment and education.

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Wamwangi said the public officers are not going to be affected by the changes expected in the county governments.

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