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EDITORIAL: Poor vetting gives us officers unfit for jobs

by kenya-tribune

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The uncertainty over the posting of Kenya’s envoys to foreign embassies is quite unsettling. It brings to question the process of appointments of top government officials and, importantly, vetting by Parliament.

Opinion is varied on the stalemate but the overall picture is that something is terribly wrong.

The government’s official position is that the new envoys have not reported to their new locations because they have not got all the Executive approvals.

But independent reports contradict that, indicating that some of the appointees have been rejected by the receiving nations.

This is an indictment of the appointment process, which is the reason it is being downplayed by the authorities.

Appointments to top positions are meant to be competitive. If the right procedure is followed, then the Public Service Commission is expected to advertise the top positions, shortlist and conduct interviews and forward names of qualifiers to the President, who, in turn, nominates the best and submits the names to Parliament for approval.

However, this hardly happens. If it does, it is more or less ritualistic and meaningless.

More often than not, the President picks candidates without consultations. Specifically, and regarding the envoys, the appointments were political.

Some of the individuals had messed up in their previous assignments, but instead of being shown the door, they were given a soft landing.

A few are facing criminal charges, hence baggage that renders it untenable for them to take up diplomatic or other top jobs.

The objective of the Constitution was to promote good governance. It espouses values and ethos to guide management of public affairs.

Among these are the principles of meritocracy, efficiency, transparency and equity. Institutions and processes should actualise those, including vetting by Parliament.

Underpinning this is the desire for competence and integrity in public life. The challenge is that these values exist largely on paper.

Hardly are they given meaning and primacy, as envisaged. Vetting, in particular, is shadily done. Many MPs go into the business driven by ethnic, political and even financial interests.

Issues are framed and addressed subjectively. Which is not to say that all is lost. The situation at hand is reason enough to go back to the drawing board and do the right thing.

The government must resolve the impasse over the postings as it does not augur well for the country’s image.

But in the long-term, the Executive must follow the right procedures in selecting nominees. Parliament must perform its oversight role with rigour, objectivity and fairness.

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