Former Finance permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua returned to government on Thursday in the elevated position of Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service.
Mr Kinyua’s appointment marks the latest placement of an official who served under President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was Finance minister into another influential government role.
It also raises questions about the pecking order in State House where the comptroller, Lawrence Lenayapa, is in office as well as secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia; Mr Kinyua’s former boss as head of the public service.
Mr Kinyua will be in charge of State House operations as well as heading the civil service, putting the experienced economist in charge of Kenya’s more than 250,000 government employees.
The hiring of the 62-year-old technocrat to the position fills a void left by the appointment of Francis Kimemia as secretary to the Cabinet under the new Constitution; which is silent on the office of public service head.
Previously, under the Constitution repealed in 2010, the head of civil service doubled up as secretary to the Cabinet. Mr Kimemia was the last holder of this office. However, the Constitution empowers the President to create administrative offices necessary to aid in the smooth running of government operations.
“The President may establish an office in the public service in accordance with the recommendation of the Public Service Commission,” reads Article 132 (4a) of the Constitution.
Lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, a commissioner with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), said not all public service positions are anchored in law.
“There are offices that can be created by the President, but not provided for expressly by the constitution. These includes advisors who are public officers,” said Mr Waiganjo.
The selection of Mr Kinyua to head the public service brings to six the number of former Treasury chiefs who have landed plum jobs in President Kenyatta’s bureaucracy.
They include Anne Waiguru, formerly the head of governance at the ministry of Finance, who was promoted to Planning and Devolution secretary.
Henry Rotich, who was head of macroeconomics at the Treasury, is currently the National Treasury secretary. Former Economic secretary Kamau Thugge is now the principal secretary at the National Treasury.
Stella Kilonzo, a former chief executive at the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), was in July appointed a member of a task-force charged with reviewing policy direction for State corporations.
CMA is a parastatal under the Treasury.
Munyori Buku, who worked as director of communications at the Treasury, now heads the department of external communications and media at the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit.
Mr Kinyua’s appointment further brings to seven the number of permanent secretaries who served in the Grand Coalition government under President Kibaki who have secured senior jobs in President Kenyatta’s administration.
The list of Kibaki-era career civil servants in the Jubilee Coalition includes Mr Kimemia and former Roads PS Michael Kamau, now the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary. Others are Mutea Iringo, who was appointed Interior principal secretary, Karanja Kibicho (Foreign Affairs) and Micheni Ntiba (Fisheries).
Mr Lenayapa, the former PS in the Development of Northern Kenya ministry, was appointed State House comptroller in April.
Mr Kinyua had announced his resignation from public service after serving for 35 years. Mr Kinyua’s career began in 1978 as an assistant lecturer at the University of Nairobi. He holds a BA and MA in Economics from the University of Nairobi.
He later joined the Central Bank of Kenya in 1980 as an economist and rose to the rank of director of Research. Between 1985 and 1990, he worked as an economist with the International Monetary Fund before returning back to the Central Bank of Kenya.
He was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury in June 1995, a position he held until July 1999 when he re-joined the Central Bank of Kenya as Director of Financial Markets. He was appointed the Chief Economist of the Central Bank of Kenya in October 2000.
Mr Kinyua was appointed as the PS Finance in September 2002, a position he held until January 2003 when he was appointed PS in the ministry of Planning and National Development.
In July 2003, he was appointed PS in the ministry of Agriculture where he served until July 2004 when he was reappointed PS to the ministry of Finance.