Uhuru, ex-presidents to lose power of hiring own staff

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his deputy, Mr William Ruto. FILE PHOTO | NMG
President Uhuru Kenyatta with his deputy, Mr William Ruto. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and former presidents will lose the powers to hire their own personal staff such as secretaries, drivers and cooks if a new set of regulations is adopted.

The proposed regulations state that the hiring of the Presidency staff including personal assistants, gardeners, health fitness instructors, housekeepers, gardeners and laundry persons will be done by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The PSC will start recruiting assistants for President Kenyatta, Mr Ruto alongside retired presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi should the regulations be adopted.

The top officials have had a free hand in picking their assistants whose budgets are footed by taxpayers.

“The Commission shall appoint personal staff for the President, Deputy President and retired presidents based on an establishment approved by the Commission,” the PSC chairperson Margaret Kobia says in the draft regulations—which are currently the subject of public debate.

“Personal staff shall serve at the pleasure of the president, deputy president or retired President and for such period as shall be determined by the Commission.”

The emoluments for personnel serving the Presidency – comprising the offices of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto – stood at Sh1 billion in the nine months to March 2017, Controller of Budget’s documents indicate.

The law entitles former presidents, Kibaki and Moi to  two personal assistants, four secretaries, four messengers, four drivers and bodyguards each.

Treasury documents indicate that the pay for Mr Kibaki’s permanent staff stood at Sh75 million in the 2015/2016 financial year, highlighting the heavy burden on taxpayers to keep former heads of state happy in retirement.

Mr Kibaki assented to the Presidential Retirement Benefits (Amendment) Bill of 2012, two weeks before the end of his term — effectively awarding himself millions of shillings worth of benefits.

Mr Kibaki and Mr Moi enjoy hefty monthly pension and lavish perks running into millions of shillings paid for by taxpayers.

They enjoy a monthly pension of Sh560,000 each, a monthly Sh379,500 house allowance, Sh247, 500 fuel allowance and Sh247, 500 entertainment perks.

The retired presidents have a fleet of cars, security and taxpayers also cater for their medical bills and trips within Kenya and abroad.

Critics have questioned the cash entitlements since the retired presidents left office rich men with a string of properties and business interests.

Mr Kibaki stepped down from the presidency in 2013 after serving two terms. Mr Moi retired in 2002 after 24 years at the helm, entitling him to regular payments, the first ever for a former head of state in Kenya.

Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died in office in 1978 and was succeeded by Mr Moi, who was his vice president.