Limited plum PS jobs attract more than 1,500 applicants

Public Service Commission (PSC) received at least 1,500 applications from individuals aspiring to be principal secretaries in the next government, the chairperson has said.

The deadline for applying was September 1.

It was an overwhelming response given the fact that only 41 slots are available with prospects becoming even slimmer should the incumbent Head of State Uhuru Kenyatta secure a second term in office. He would likely want to retain some of the current office holders.

“We will capture data next week and analyse. We now have more time to review the applications,” commission chairperson Margaret Kobia told the Nation.

The nullification of President Kenyatta’s victory by the Supreme Court early this month appears to have jolted many things, this being one of them.

The intense lobbying seen in the weeks running to the August 8 polls and after has since died as prospective candidates are keen to see how the presidential contest ends.

PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES

Whereas PSC conducts the interviews, their roles are largely cosmetic as the President has immense leeway on who eventually becomes a Principal Secretary (PS).

In the past, the position has been used to reward loyalists, sometimes at the expense of merit.

But while Prof Kobia would not say whether they would open the applications afresh, especially in the event the opposition leader Raila Odinga trouncing Mr Kenyatta in the repeat election slated for October 26, the political reality would force them to do so.

This is because a majority of the applicants, we established, are Jubilee leaning and were guided by the fact that they could use their connections in the current regime to land the plum positions.

The nature of lobbying for such positions sometimes sees money and other favours being traded because, other than directly being in charge of resources, the office, too, enjoys a lot of benefits.

Article 155 of the Constitution stipulates that each State department shall be under the administration of a Principal Secretary who is an Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) holder.

MAJORITY SEATS

It says the President nominates a person for appointment as Principal Secretary from among persons recommended to him or her by the Public Service Commission. Mr Kenyatta would in this case have his way given his Jubilee party has majority seats in the National Assembly. The law further allows the President to re-assign a PS.

“Pursuant to this constitutional provision, the Public Service Commission invites applications from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for the position of Principal Secretary,” the notice reads.

Mr Kenyatta has promised many politicians jobs in his government, those whose bids for elective seats came a cropper but be that as it may, whoever becomes the president must ensure that the appointments meet certain constitutional requirements such as regional balance and cater for marginalised groups.

LOOMING SHAKEUP

After the PSC advertised  the positions last month, anxiety gripped various ministries given reports of looming shakeup of top officials with the formation of a new government. The same was also witnessed among Cabinet Secretaries were Mr Kenyatta to retain his seat. He is said to be keen to offload about 70 per cent of the current ministers as part of the effort to solidify his legacy.

“The idea is to have a pool from which we will recommend to the President for appointment,” Prof Kobia said.

Unlike CSs who are appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly, the Constitution prescribes a rigorous recruitment process for PSs.

 “Every time a new government is formed, the appointing authority uses certain criteria to appoint the people to hold such offices. One of the criteria is to make sure they are competent and qualified. For PSs, it is the commission that can recommend from that pool.” she said. 

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