A week doesn’t go by without mention of a referendum to change the constitution with the hope that it will fix one thing or the other. Most proposals that have been drafted by different factions are calling for the expansion of the executive to ensure that the government is as inclusive as can be. The challenge with this is that it can only create room for a maximum of two or three people. This figure doesn’t come anywhere close to adequately representing the diverse Kenyan population.
Keep in mind that Kenya is a country of roughly 50 million people, 43 tribes, over 10 religions, different races, persons living with disability and almost an equal number of men as women. That said, inclusivity should not be left to elective positions. Government appointments are a great place to start to reflect the diverse country we are.
Let’s take into consideration the appointments made by the president in this year alone. While President Kenyatta has made slight attempts in diversifying his selections, we have to acknowledge that we’ve only made baby steps in achieving inclusivity.
The President recently extended Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge’s term for another three years. The history of this monetary authority, however, hasn’t favored women. It was only during former President Kibaki’s term that we saw the historic appointment of Jacinta Mwatela as the first female Deputy Governor in 2005. She then made history again by being the first female CBK Governor in 2006, even though it was in an acting capacity following the sack of her then-boss, Andrew Mullei. Shortly after she was floated for a new Ministerial position, which she declined.
While Patrick Njoroge appeared to be a unicorn of some sorts with regards to the age factor, the President has been on youth’s wrong side for appointing old guards such as Former Vice President Moody Awori. Such appointments go against the one thing that won them support from the biggest voting bloc in Kenya, empowering youth. Recycling old faces kills the morale of the youth who are hanging onto the promise of more and better opportunities.
While President Uhuru may want to portray an unbiased government, it hasn’t escaped the common mwananchi that he has overtime created special positions for his political allies. Most of whom were people who lost in the 2017 election and in turn offered positions to reward their loyalty.
Also puzzling is the appointment of individuals who already hold separate government positions. Case in point, Priscilla Nyokabi who is the current commissioner for the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) was recently appointed by the president as the Chair for the National Lands Commission (NLC) appointing board. One may be forgiven for thinking that there may be a scarcity in skilled personnel who are more than capable of taking on these roles.
Regional balance still remains one of the President’s biggest challenge. It doesn’t take more than a glance at someone’s surname to figure out which community/region they hail from. For the president to continuously float names of people from a few specific communities, it subtly insinuates that folks from other communities don’t have the qualities to be considered for appointments. Which is untrue.
His recent appointments for Ambassadorial roles is commendable. The list of vetted appointees tabled in Parliament had an equal number of women as men. Nominated MP Dr. David Ole Sankok, however, shared his reservations over the nominees that had excluded persons living with a disability.
In the future and for collective ownership of these positions, all appointments should reflect diversity and inclusion in terms of gender, age and regional balance. Failure to do so only continues to foster the simmering feelings of exclusion and disenfranchisement amongst different demographics.