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It’s time to get rid of the incompetent CSs



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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to the Cabinet Secretaries to take their work seriously is quite telling. It underlines his dissatisfaction with their performance and the imperative is for them to either shape up or ship out.

A casual assessment of the CSs easily reveals how just a few of them are working. There are a few well-intentioned, public-driven and dedicated ministers who make a difference in their respective portfolios. But there are a number whose presence cannot be felt in the dockets they head. Some started off with a bang but have since fizzled out. Others are merely pompous but deficient in outputs.

And this brings to the fore a fundamental subject of public discourse. First is about their competence and suitability.

Unlike in the past, the Constitution provides for a non-political Cabinet. Implicit in this are two issues — competence and fortification against political influences.

The President has powers to appoint individuals deemed to have requite qualifications and experience.

However, in reality some do not have the right competencies, having been appointed for political reasons or to achieve narrow ethnic interests.

The consequence is the poor performance that the President is getting livid about.

Matters have been complicated by the fact that as currently constituted, the Cabinet is answerable directly to Parliament.

They are not MPs and do not directly participate in matters before the House. Other than occasional appearances before respective House committees, they are insulated from interrogation on the floor of the House, and yet that was always an effective platform for enforcing accountability.

Partly, this is part of the reason why there have been calls to review the Constitution to resolve some vexed or contentious issues.

As things stand, the President sets targets upon which the ministers and their technocrats are assessed.

In an ideal situation, those targets ought to be made public to allow citizens to participate in the assessment. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Worse, performance targets are hardly followed up and appropriate actions taken based on evidence on the outputs. A time has come when this system must be made to work.

However, if the President is sufficiently upset as he has expressed, he needs to do the right thing, get rid of those joyriders and appoint competent individuals who can deliver. It is not enough for the President to issue threats, he should act.

He has the legal and administrative instruments and thus needs to do the logical thing — send the non-performers packing.