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Kenyan Legislators to Grapple with Issue of Nepotism

  • Peter Clottey

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Kenya Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger - World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Kenya Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger - World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009

A prominent member of Kenyans for Democracy and Justice, a political pressure group, said nepotism in the country’s body politic, including the government, is an endemic problem that has to be dealt with.

This comes as Kenyan legislators are scheduled to question Prime Minister Raila Odinga Monday over allegations of growing nepotism in the current coalition administration.

Attorney Okia Omtata told VOA the problem of nepotism can only be resolved through a concerted effort of transparency within the government, as well as the private sector.

“Over all, we’ve got major problems of representation, in terms of representation of various regions within the country in government because, if you look at the president, he has taken his tribesmen, and if you look at finance, if you check internal security, two dockets can sit and have inter-departmental meetings in their mother tongue because senior management are populated by people from his region and his area.”

Omtata said nepotism goes a long way to undermine Kenya’s unity.

Legislators cited the president’s office, treasury and Kenya’s public universities as specific institutions where nepotism is most rampant.

Recently, Francis Muthaura, head of Kenya’s of Public Service, ordered government agencies to ensure that not more than one-third of employees in any government department should be from one ethnic community.

But, Mohammed Affey, the chair of parliament’s Committee on Equal Opportunity, was quoted as saying legislators are uncomfortable with what he described as a disturbing trend.

“We are really concerned about this trend. There seems to be a blatant violation of the law left, right and center. There are some departments which are just rotten. We want competence and we believe that all Kenyans are competent. But, in these departments, the bias is obvious. Universities are the biggest culprits. Instead of becoming national institutions, they are being relegated to village institutions.”

Omtata said favoritism within government can be equated to graft under the new constitution.

“I think that (the) Odinga family is not blacklisted just because one of them is a prime minister. We also have to appreciate another fact that, during the struggle for change in this country, a lot of them (Mr. Odinga’s family) were blacklisted and they never got a chance, but that is not a justification for them not to be hired through a competitive bidding.”

Critics say there are too many people in powerful positions within the government that are closely related to Prime Minister Raila Odinga, which they said is a clear case of endemic nepotism.

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