Curse of personal negotiations in public service
THAT Kenyans are overrepresented is not in doubt. But to understand this, you need to go back to January 2010, when the Parliamentary Select Committee met in Naivasha to start the process of midwifing the new Constitution.
You may also care to remember that a figure of 80 new seats was placed on the table. The figure was arbitrary: There was no criteria used and it has never been explained how the figure was arrived at.
And that is where the rain started beating us.
The increase, later raised to 90, was too heavy and there was no justifiable reason for it. First, through the same Constitution, we had brought in the county assemblies, which provided strong representation through the MCAs. We had also introduced a second chamber in Parliament, the Senate.
With this structure, it was out of tune to increase the number of seats in the National Assembly. Actually, the trick was the reduction of the number of seats, which those of us in civil society had suggested at 150 members in the National Assembly.
Yes, we are overrepresented but it is difficult to conclude this issue in the absence of comparative figures with finality. This is because the problem of Kenya’s wage bill is not just that of overrepresentation. That the wage bill has gone through the roof has its roots in historical events that have shaped the country in the last few years.
It started with the Dream Team, who were brought in to run the Civil Service and allowed to negotiate their own remuneration. The Dream Team reign was succeeded by the emergence of the greedy generation of MPs who entrenched the idea of increasing their own salaries.
Then came the constitutional commissions, who were given the leeway to negotiate their personal emoluments because they were considered a special cadre of civil servant.
This would kick-start an era of haphazard increases of salaries at different levels in the public service. The consequence is that of a civil and public service where individuals are allowed to negotiate their emoluments as individuals, where they are paid obscene salaries, which gobble up public resources.
It is these events that triggered a series of problems that have led to distortion of the structure of salaries in both the public and civil service. After so many such attempts, the country is now in such a difficult position that it can’t stop this behaviour of personal negotiations.