Thursday, July 24, 2008



July 24, 2008
Gakuu Mathenge
The Standard

The reappointment of Mr Joe Barage Wanjui as the Chancellor of the University of Nairobi adds to the suspicions President Kibaki only pays lip service to the war against impunity.

Wanjui, a former chairman of the Transparency International board, is among a group of senior civil servants who made it to the ignominious list compiled by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, (KNHRC), and submitted to the Attorney General for prosecution over alleged indiscipline late last year.

They were listed as having been in violation of the Public Officer Ethics Act that was enacted by the Ninth Parliament to restore respectability to the Civil Service.

The list contained the names of what has come to be known as political CEOs, a select cabal of privileged civil servants, who conduct themselves in a manner suggesting they are not bound by the common law and the Civil Service code.

The KNHRC concerns was that the civil servants named in its election monitoring report titled “Still Behaving Badly” had violated the Public Officer Ethics Act, the National Assembly and the Presidential Elections Act by compromising the independence of their offices by getting mixed up in partisan political activities.

Other CEOs listed in the report include Mr George Muhoho (Kenya Air Ports Authority), Mr Nathaniel Kang’ethe (Director, Kenya Revenue Authority), Mr Eddy Njoroge (Kengen), Mr Titus Mbathi (Former PS and Chairman, Kengen Board), Mr James Kimonye (Then MD, Kenya Meat Commission), and Prof Nick Wanjohi (then Vice-Chancellor JKUAT) from involving themselves in PNU politics.

All of them were in the Presidential Advisory Board and the Elections Board, the two outfits behind the operations and activities of Maendeleo Resources Trust that operated under the slogan Kibaki Tena in the last General Election.

Blue-eyed boys of the Kibaki

Section 16 (1) of the Public Officer Ethics Act says no civil servant shall get involved in partisan political activities, as an agent for or so as to further the interests of a political party; indicate support for or against any party or candidate in an election; or engage in activities that are likely to compromise the political neutrality of his office.

The impunity with which the so called blue-eyed boys of the Kibaki regime also exposed the head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Muthaura, to accusations of doublestandards, after he kicked out other civil servants who wanted to join politics.

Early last year, he issued a directive for civil servants wishing to join politics to resign by June.

The conduct of the political CEOs is a throwback to the ugly 1960s and 1970s when certain members of the “Family”, some relatives and cohorts of the founding President Kenyatta got away with mischief.

Pioneer head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Duncan Ndegwa says in his biography that impunity by senior civil servants who enjoyed political patronage in the 1970s, poisoned morale of the rest of the Public Service.