President William Ruto is looking to enshrine the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) position in Kenya’s public service. The cabinet positions were introduced by former President Uhuru Kenyatta before being declared unconstitutional by the High Court in June 2021.
Activist Okiya Omtatah, now Busia Senator, moved to court challenging the appointment of the officers and creation of the office of the CAS by the former President. Uhuru appointed various political allies of his, many of whom lost in the 2017 polls, as Chief Administrative Secretaries.
High Court Judge Antony Mrima ruled that the creation of the office of Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) was unconstitutional. He added that any permanent secretary not competitively recruited by the Public Service Commission (PSC) was in office illegally.
To avoid another protracted legal battle, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is seeking views from the public on the establishment of the position as proposed by Ruto.
The process of appointment would be similar to that of Principal Secretaries – as the PSC would recommend persons to hold the position of CAS for appointment through a competitive recruitment process after which the President would nominate his picks and have them vetted by the National Assembly. Interested applicants would be required to possess a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university and excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
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“The President has proposed to establish the offices of Chief Administrative Secretary which will be offices in the public service and will be under the direction of Cabinet Secretaries,” noted Amb. Anthony Muchiri, PSC Chairperson, in a statement shared with newsrooms on Wednesday, September 21.
“The invitation for public participation follows a proposal by His Excellency the President to the Commission to establish the offices of Chief Administrative Secretary in accordance with the provisions of Article 132(4)(a) of the Constitution,” the PSC noted.
The PSC stated that all public views should be made in writing and mailed or hand-delivered to the Commission’s offices located along Harambee Avenue not later than 6th October 2022.
The move has raised concerns on the public wage bill and its burden on taxpayers, and comes alongside a move by the National Assembly led by Speaker Moses Wetangula, a Kenya Kwanza principal, to have multi-billion shilling car grants and allowances reinstated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) after they were scrapped months ago. Compounding matters are the pronouncements by Kenya Kwanza leaders including Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua that they inherited public coffers in a dire state, stating that delivery of various projects promised in their manifesto would be delayed.
If the proposal by Ruto sails through, CASs would be tasked with, among other things, articulating public policies and programmes.
“They will also be expected to demonstrate ability to manage the administrative-political interface, articulate public policies and programmes, and undertake complex and high-pressure tasks that require engagements with multi-institutions and other public officers/offices among others,” stated.