Public servants should learn a lesson from last week’s polls 

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 01:37 | By
Kenyans queue to cast their votes at the Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi in the 2017 election. PHOTO/PD/File
Kenyans queue to cast their votes at the Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi in the 2017 election. PHOTO/PD/File

As politicians who lost in the just concluded August 2022 general elections continue to leak their wounds, one wonders whether civil servants have learnt any lesson from the just concluded duel.  The lessons visited upon the politicians by the angry electorate by sending them parking through the ballot, was to a  larger extent based on the assessment of the report cards of the politicians’ performance for the last five years. 

An assessment of the sentiments by the electorate as to why they rejected the incumbent legislators across the political divide, one picks the one cogent reason of non-performance and incompetency. What has happened is a perfect example of the application of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s social contract theory where citizens agree on specific deliverables with government through a social contract. 

Where the government fails to perform the tasks agreed upon with the citizens, citizens have the right and duty to withdraw their support and even to rebel. It should be noted that our constitution resonates well with the social contract concept by providing for recall of members of parliament who fall short of the electorate’s expectations.  

It is high time the electorate invokes the recall clause in the constitution by recalling ineffective political leaders before their term of office comes to an end.  This should also be replicated in the civil service’s rank and file in getting rid of callous and incompetent civil servants who keep sucking public resources through huge salaries and perks with no commensurate service delivered to citizens. According to Article 232 of the Constitution of Kenya, public officers are required to execute their duties with high standards of professional ethics, efficiency, effectiveness and economic use of public resources. 

It is, however, pity to see some civil servants in high offices using their positions to enrich themselves at the detriment of service delivery. 

This has become a norm where civil servants hide behind the tenure of office to continue perpetrating and perpetuating incompetency, nepotism and corruption. According to the Public Service Commission Evaluation Report of 2021 on compliance with values and principles of Article 10 and 232 of the constitution, the government lost Sh226, 719,887.4 through corruption-related incidences. The report further revealed that 132 public officers were prosecuted in court for corruption related offences of which 32 of the officers were convicted. 

Finally, the report concluded that one hundred and thirty-nine of the public institutions (53 per cent) were subject to civil proceedings an indication that the institutions did not uphold good governance practices.

As we applaud the electorate for unapologetically sending into political oblivion incompetent legislators through the ballot, errant public officers must also be put on notice that the writing is on the wall and their days are numbered. It is, therefore, high time we call upon citizens to rise to the occasion and exercise their civic responsibility of holding into account errant and incompetent civil servants or at worst hound them out office by using the available constitutional mechanisms.

— The author is HRM expert and a governance commentator [email protected]

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