Thursday, February 10, 2011




By Patrick Opondi

Migori County
February 10 2011

Whether it is because of the undesirable notion of power sharing thrashed upon us in the name of a coalition government or the typical display arrogance and impunity within the rank and file of our public officers, the recent public display by aides of the president and that of the prime minister revealed a deep crack in government.

The deep division in government has been orchestrated by suspicions and mistrusts amongst the political class, which is likely to compromise interpretation of government policies and delivery of services. Though cicil servants play a critical role in policy formulation, they are never at the forefront to to push for the adoption of any particualar policy agenda. They often descreetly align themselves behind the curtain, from where they pull the strings, to avoid attracting negative publicity and the wrath of the tax payers.

While appearing before the parliamentary commitees, both teams displayed uncharacteristic behaviors of appointed officials, by choosing to play politics contrary to their call of duty of impartiality.

Both Muthaura and Caroli Omondi are employees of the government and not party officials, to be seen displaying party affiliations on policy matters. To the contrary, they should develop a uniform voice to advice politicians on policy issues, analysis, interpretation and implementation, by the book. Yet when they appeared before the various parliamentary committees, they appeared to be reading from two different scripts, exposing hidden motives in chosing public officials.

Muthaura himself is a career diplomat, a long serving public servant who understands the due process and the influence of bureaucracy in government. Instead, he turned a blind eye to rush a critical process which threatens the very stability of the law they swear to safegurad.

Politicians are known to bicker, because they have a constituency to please and deliver to. They are under duress, to please their followers, with threats of losing votes and public appeal, should they short change their followers. It is for this reason that most politicians are seen to be unprincipled, because they follow the crowd, not well grounded opinions.

This cannot be said about official appointees who are duty bound to remain neutral, though loyal to the government in power,a component factor in case of some form of political transition. They are not party operatives to be seen to favor or push for a particular party or individual’s interest. In this regard, they should not have been even party to the ‘dubious consultations’ to represent camps and vested interests. Muthaura appears to have been at the consultation table to push for PNU interests while Omondi vouched for ODM, a position they illustrated during the hearings. The two employees receive their pay cheques from the same consolidated account, not through political parties.

Considered experts and knowledgeable on constitutional interpretations, the technocrat ought to have deliberated first to ensure they tied all they lose ends, seen to be in conflict with the constitution instead of rushing the principals to arbitrarily wreck the constitution, which they have sworn to uphold. Had they developed a united approach guided by a serious reference material before engaging the principals, they could have noted the folly in the approach they adopted, they could have added value to the process, had they injected some elements of professionalism and independence.

When civil servants are persuaded by powerful individuals to negate their professional appeal and call to serve vested personal interest, they short change tax payers by endorsing impunity and illegality. They betray the cardinal principle of separation of power in government, instrumental in creating strong checks and balances.

Muthaura and Omondi owe the public an apology, for misleading the principals and for their shoddy work, leading to the impasse witnessed in the nomination process. They ought to have been repremanded for their failure to follow the laid down procedure to achieve an enermous task, exposing the credibility of both principles to disrepute in the public domain.

We are found ourselves in a stalemate because our civil service over the years has lost direction by getting sucked into political contests, to reap cheap gains for themselves and their families. Public confidence on public officials has turned to cynicism, because of constant betrayal, double standards and intimidating powers vested on them. Civil servants must follow the rule to the letter, without allowing themselves to be political mercenaries on hire by politicians.