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Civil Servants Must Ensure Their Conduct - Both Public
And Private - Shall Never Disrepute The Service

Coastweek -- I have been following with great amusement two processes that are anchored on integrity of people, writes Teti Kamugunda.

One is the so called “vetting” of cops and the other is the circus surrounding the affairs of the chairman of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission or EACC in short.

These processes are checking on the suitability of the people concerned to hold office.

They also have in common the fact that those people went through a pre employment process and are now being subjected to some sort of review process.

This is because it is felt that either the initial process was not rigorous enough – as is the case with the boys in blue, or that there are new developments, which require a re-examination of the premises of employment or appointment.

The key question for me is why we got where we are in the first place.

Every year we have a national recruitment exercise for new policeman and also usually for the various uniformed services.

We will stick to the cops for now although the points will be common for all.

As far as the other higher posts such as Commission Chairs, Commissioners and the Commisions senior leadership, there is also an established process and is again common to all and not just the EACC.

What obtains here will obtain in all. We will stick to the EACC.

The key is that all are subject to the Civil Service Code of Conduct which was last revised in 2006 (and note that the Constitution of Kenya was promulgated in 2010 and the Code of Conduct has still not been revised six years later!).

The key item we are looking at is what integrity requirements there are at the time of employment and then what happens during the course of employment to ensure that these requirements continue to be examined and reinforced.

Excerpts from the Code of Conduct reveal some interesting requirements.

The preamble says that the rules of conduct are to be observed by a civil servant so as to maintain his integrity and loyalty to the Government and also uphold the dignity of the public office to which he has been appointed.

It also reminds employees that each civil servant occupies a special position within the Civil Service and ought to be proud of that position and ensure that his conduct both in public and in private life does not bring the Service into disrepute.

It is concludes by averring that it is imperative that every civil servant adheres to these rules of conduct, and such other rules which may be promulgated from time to time.

In the rewards section the Code of Conduct says that an officer serving on an incremental scale is not entitled to receive an increment as a right.

An increment will only be granted if the officer has discharged his duties with efficiency, diligence and fidelity.

These are the only two clauses I could find that related to integrity. Ninety per cent of the code of conduct relates to terms of service and allowances!

I then also looked at the Rewards and Sanctions Policy Framework from 2014.

Looking at the preamble for this framework and indeed in the whole body of the document there was miniscule mention of integrity or ethics as one of the pillars of determining reward.

The punch line was that its objective was to ensure high levels of staff motivation on a sustainable basis, encourage meritocracy and address poor performance.

It therefore seems strange that various public service organisations are carrying out vetting of existing officers primarily on corruption issues when the ways of working do not have a strong requirement for the setting out of standards and the continuous assessment and strengthening of the issues.

Looking from outside it all seems to be a witch hunt and a process set to catch rabbits in the glare of strong lights at night.

Next week we will look at some suggestions to change the public service culture and attitude and also why we should completely revamp this shambolic process of vetting and reviewing.

As Kachumbari says, our roads will still be a jungle even after vetting the cops.

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