When presidential candidate is a ghost worker
Mid last year, it was revealed that a whopping Sh32 million was earned by ghost workers in Vihiga county. At a time when the country was groaning from the effects of the Covid pandemic, an audit failed to trace 426 employees at the duty station.
In Siaya, a move to weed out ghost workers ended in a surprise appearance of elderly people who trooped to the county headquarters to receive pay as the county government had issued a directive to workers to come physically for their wages. The situation shocked the many legitimate employees who had also lined up for wages.
Welcome to the world of ghost workers, a phenomenon that greatly deters development, increases a society’s wage bill and denies others opportunities for employment while compromising the quality of work done by being absent without apology or portraying any need to show up.
But do we understand what exactly a ghost worker is? Alive or dead, in the case of an organisation or company, a ghost worker is simply described as a person who is on an employer’s payroll but does not work for the organisation.
In other terms, it is also viewed as a deceased whose records are still in a company’s records or someone who left the company. With all its anomalies, these employees or workers often “benefit” from salaries and perks which they, or others pocket, using it as a bait to embezzle funds from an institution or government.
In such cases, for those active and living, many are known joy-riders who intentionally stay away from their mandate without valid reason but expect to draw salaries and allowances.
A proven menace within the government payrolls, the existence of ghost workers is not a new phenomenon. Occurring in almost every sector of economy, reports have indicated that ghost workers in Kenya have gobbled up billions over the past decades despite efforts to eradicate the vice.
As far back as 2014, counties have been conducting frequent staff audits as the government engaged in purging of ghost workers from the payroll. Despite this, the problem again emerged in 2019, five years after 12,000 names were struck out. These were workers who had either died, retired or absconded from duty.
Why is all this critical at this time? Being an electioneering period when Kenyans are required to elect their next set of leaders, they must be keen about their track record, experience and work ethic.
Having been and still in government, Deputy President William Ruto has been campaigning for the past five years right from the 2017 elections. The DP has been spending the taxpayers money and time taking care of his personal ambitions. He has left his mandate behind, but carries the title with him as he traverses the country.
In many occasions, the DP has been conspicuously missing in government functions and events. This has often left Kenyans questioning his commitment to his mandate as the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya.
Portraying characteristics of a worker who absconds duty, Ruto has intentionally missed several crucial events some of which includes the Nairobi County takeover where the President oversaw the transfer of functions from the Nairobi County government to the national government and the launch of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Enumeration.
Even at a crucial time when support from all leaders in government was required, Ruto missed the President’s announcement of measures to be taken after the country received the confirmation of the first coronavirus case.
If such a senior leader seeking the presidency can choose to abscond duty, will he be able to give the presidency the attention and the respect it deserves?
— The writer comments on topical issues