State corporations throw out interns deployed by PSC

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 00:00 |
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia on GBV cases.
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia. PD/FILE
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia. PD/FILE

Hundreds of graduate interns recently deployed to various ministries have run into problems after some of the receiving State agencies turned them away.

People Daily has established that the affected interns are victims of a standoff between the Public Service Commission (PSC), parastatals and other State agencies that has impeded their absorption as the institutions seek to control the recruitment process.

Already, interns posted to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Media Council of Kenya, Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Kenya Revenue Authority have been rejected.

Some heads of State agencies who spoke to us on condition of anonymity accused the PSC of having carried out the interviews which saw an inaugural batch of 3,600 graduates selected, without involving them, leading to suspicion over the exercise.

“The issue of KRA is still fresh in our minds, where the government sent in tens of State agents who ended up implicating the very people who were supposed to train them, in corruption. With the kind of situation we are in at the moment, who would want to consciously dig their own grave by allowing in would-be spies?” asked one parastatal head.

Another State agency boss claimed that some areas such as finance, accounts and ICT are sensitive that they “cannot trust someone from outside to work on a temporary basis”.

Others said the PSC did not ask them for their staffing needs to enable them to specify the kind of interns they required.

Distraught interns, whom we cannot name for ethical reasons, yesterday narrated to People Daily how they had been turned away from different government agencies they had been posted to by PSC  and asked to return to the recruiting agency.

“I reported to a government agency that deals with police issues on Monday, but the HR department told me that they had not received any communication from PSC about my being posted there. They said they had already recruited their own interns and they had nothing to do with PSC,” said an IT graduate.

Another graduate, who had been sent to the accounts department of a medical institution, narrated how his excitement and dreams were shattered when he was turned away.

With tears welling in his eyes, the graduate said: “They just told me that they had no vacancy for me and that I should report back to the PSC.”

Thorny issue

Tribulations for the interns come barely a week after Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia commissioned them to various ministries, departments and State agencies to start a year’s work programme that comes with a monthly stipend of Sh20,000.

The programme that was allocated Sh1 billion in the current financial year is targeted to benefit university graduates who completed their studies not earlier than 2015.

It is among the Jubilee administration’s promises made during the 2017 campaigns to empower the youth through job creation.

While the programme does not constitute an offer for employment in the public service, successful applicants were to be attached to various government ministries, departments and agencies, for a period of between 12 and 18 months, receiving a monthly stipend of between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000.

But the issue of pay has turned to be a thorny issue as some of the agencies claim the PSC does not want to spend the Sh1 billion and has instead asked them to pay the interns from their own accounts.

“It is the PSC that was allocated money for the programme, but they are now asking us to pay the interns. Where do they expect us to get the money and how do they intend to use the Sh1 billion they were allocated?” one of the State agencies bosses asked.

 Yesterday, Kobia declined to comment on the stand-off promising to get back once she gets the necessary information.

“Let me get back to you once I have all the information, since I am hearing this for the first time,” Kobia said on the phone before she hung up. 

 But PSC head of communications Browne Kutswa downplayed the issue terming the interns predicament as “isolated cases that will be resolved soon”.

 “We have received the complaints and we are working to resolve the issue,” he told People Daily on phone adding that those affected will be posted soon.

He clarified that various ministries, departments and agencies had made formal requests for various professional cadres, hence the deployment was pegged on those parameters.

Asked if the agencies could recruit own interns, Kutswa said there was no law barring them.

“All departments already had their own programmes to recruit interns, because the demand is high,” he said, adding that the recently commissioned batch was only supposed to complement what the departments were doing.

Entrench cronyism

He said the interns were supposed to report to their work stations between October 14 and 31.

Another source at PSC claimed some of the government agencies rejecting the interns are out to entrench corruption, tribalism, nepotism and cronyism in the recruitment exercise.

“All they are saying are mere excuses because when PSC centralises the exercise, it would cut off their nerve centres they use to make money and assist their people,” said the source. 

While officially closing the induction of the interns last week at Kasarani gymnasium, ICT Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru called for personal commitment, integrity, honesty and professionalism among the interns as they serve in the public service.

The PSC selected 3,600 of the shortlisted 8,000 out of the 18,000 applicants from all the 47 counties through a pre-selection interview process at various centres countrywide.

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