The Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) has been flagged for what has been deemed as irregular staff recruitment practices.
This was after a report by Auditor-General, Nancy Gathungu revealed that 285 of the facility’s 608 employees were from one ethnic community despite being a national hospital.
According to Gathungu, the hiring of nearly 47 per cent of employees of a national institution from one tribe is a contravention of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008.
“This is a breach of Section 7(1) and (2) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act (2008) which indicates that all offices shall seek to represent the diversity of the people of Kenya in the staff employment and that no public institution shall have more than one-third of its staff establishment from the same Community,” read the report by Gathungu.
The office of the Auditor General revealed that upon questioning the institution on the imbalanced representation, its management defended the decision claiming that it was caused by the urgency to recruit staff amid a looming health crisis.
The majority of the recruitment was done in 2020, when the facility was listed as a National Covid-19 Treatment and Isolation Centre, in a bid to contain the spread of the highly infectious disease.At the time, the country was recording high infections and deaths, and needed to boost its capacity.
KUTRRH noted that the emergency required rapid hiring and gave little chance to ensure ethnic diversity in the recruitment process. Parliament may step in to compel the hospital to correct the over representation of one community in future staff additions.
Gathungu further put the institution on the spot for operating without an official Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since July 2019. She noted that despite advertising the vacancy no interviews had been conducted by April 2021.
“However, no interviews had been conducted by the time of audit in April 2021 and the position remained vacant. In the circumstances, I am unable to confirm the effectiveness of day-to-day management of the hospital.”
Introduced in the Constitution of Kenya (2010), ethnic diversity was meant to break a deadlock that placed job seekers who were from the same tribe as those in power at better positions to secure employment, subsequently locking out qualified and well-experienced applicants. The Constitution therefore sought to address the issue of inclusivity within the public sector.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) holds that all Kenyans be given equal opportunity to serve in government institutions based on merit. In line with this, public institutions are mandated to set up policies that will ensure ethnic balance and correct previous imbalances.