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Tharaka-Nithi governor says staff were suspended, not fired

A defiant Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki has said he will not be intimidated by threats to sue him over suspension of county employees in his quest to clear the mess left by his predecessor.

At the same time, Governor Njuki clarified that only 960 contracted employees have been suspended pending an audit of the county workforce.

Mr Njuki said that contrary to reports that he had fired over 1,000 county employees, the move targeted those on open contract and who were not competitively employed in what he said will save the county in the excess of Sh25 million a month in salaries.

This is despite opposition from the Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia and Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

GO TO COURT

“This is just the beginning. Those aggrieved can move to court and let us sort it out. They can’t win the case because no court can support an illegality of this magnitude,” Mr Njuki, who defeated Mr Samwel Ragwa in the just concluded general election, said.

According to the youthful governor, majority of those affected are nurses and medical staff brought in by his predecessor “through the backdoor” to mitigate the crisis caused by the over 800 striking nurses.

The governor noted that the discoveries made by his own team showed that those hired did not have the right professional qualifications and that the county health department did not advertise or conduct interviews to pick the right people as the law requires.

“There were a lot of quacks, people who have never gone to medical school yet serving as pharmacists, nurses etc. We also discovered that some were employed elsewhere and were only interested in double salaries within our county,” Governor Njuki said.

TWO JOBS

Though he did not give names, the governor said one case involved the husband of one of the staff, who despite being gainfully employed by the Kenya Defence Forces, has been drawing a monthly salary from the county coffers.

Mr Njuki, who is the immediate former Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP, noted that the PSC boss and her Cotu counterpart, may be forgiven for thinking that counties have a perfect system like is the case with the national government.

“Whether Ms Kobia and Mr Atwoli speak for them, whether those affected go to the moon or the sun, we will hire the right employees with the right skills to serve people better. They can go demonstrating,” he said adding, “You can’t be in charge of a system that is robbing people and do nothing.”

PAWNS

He said the previous administration used the county public service board as pawns that milked the county in excess of Sh200 million per month on recurrent expenditures.

Interestingly, according to the governor, most decisions of the board were made by the deputy chairman of the board and the secretary as the chairman, whom he described as straight, were kept at bay.

He said that the county has been blowing 60 per cent of the county revenue on salaries and other recurrent expenditures despite the World Bank recommending of a maximum of 30 per cent.

The governor also noted that the 2015 audit by Earnest and Young and the defunct Transition Authority on staff rationalisation has not been implemented.

The report provided guidelines on how to identify the right workforce, structuring of ministries and departments among others.

Mr Njuki said the exercise will continue for the whole week until the payroll is ‘clean’.

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