Workforce: MPs question ethnic imbalance in State agencies
Five communities control over 70 per cent of the workforce in key State agencies, it has emerged.
For instance, at the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), out of the 1,927 staff members, 1,323 are from the five communities—Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Kamba, Luhya and Luo.
The situation is the same at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) where out 1,307 staff members, 980 or 75 per cent are from five ethnic communities.
NHIF has 21 persons with disabilities while NSSF has 44.
Appearing before the Select Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity of the National Assembly, NHIF acting chief executive Nicodemus Odongo blamed lack of accessibility, communication barriers and limited resources for the poor distribution of positions.
NSSF management blamed political interference, rampant during Kanu days where directives were given on who should be employed. The management said the historic composition of employees recruited before the new NSSF Act still stands as one cannot terminate their services unless on disciplinary grounds.
Fund Corporate Affairs manager Dr Christopher Khisa said the management had let natural attrition take its course.
“Political interference was too much sometimes but the number has been reducing as more employees leave either after retiring or from natural attrition,” Khisa told the committee.
He said the situation had been complicated in some regions such as Mandera where people from outside were not willing to work due to insecurity forcing the fund to employ locals.
Odongo told the Maina Kamanda-led committee that lack of accessibility to vacancies advertised through the print media and lack of applications for jobs by minority communities from remote regions as some of the reasons that hampered equal distribution of jobs.
Members, however, dismissed the reasons as vague. “You must look at ways of reaching those communities if advertising through the media has failed,” said Kasipul MP Ong’ondo Were.
The two agencies had been asked to provide information on employees’ composition in terms of ethnicity, age, gender and persons with disability. They were asked to give information on staff employed after August, 2010 and their ethnic representation.
Odongo said NHIF has prepared remedies to the imbalanced distribution of staff by among others reserving certain positions for people from remote areas. The fund also plans to use provisional administration structures to reach out marginalised communities.
Members directed that NHIF management provide more information next week.
Committee vice chair Jacqueline Oduor directed that the NHIF board accompanies management.
Keynan said board members were key to policies such as employment, hence the need to hear from them.
“Policies in these agencies are given by boards, leaving management to implement and therefore the right people to hear from on matters to do with employment is the board,” Keynan said.
On Tuesday, a Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) report on its ethnic composition indicated the five communities control 65.04 per cent of jobs at the agency despite accounting for less than half of the Kenyan population.
The other 44 ethnic groups share the remaining 34.96 per cent of positions.
Under the diversity policy for State Ministries, Departments and Agencies released in December 2015 by the Public Service Commission, ethnic groups whose job representation surpasses their corresponding national population proportion are considered to be over-represented.
The diversity policy was expected to tackle the problem of over-representation by setting hiring quotas for ethnic groups and disadvantaged classes such as the disabled.