Kenya’s Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru is on the spot after he re-appointed a dead man to occupy a top seat at a film body.
In a gazette notice dated October 16, Mr Mucheru picked the late Robert Kochalle, who died on May 28, 2018, as a board member of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB).
Until his death, Kochalle had had a successful career in public service, with his highest appointment being Tourism and Wildlife assistant minister.
But on Tuesday, he was re-appointed to help regulate the film industry in Kenya for three years.
According to Mr Mucheru, Kochalle was supposed to take up his post and earn a salary from Monday, October 21.
His appointment exposes one of the routes ghost workers use to land on the public service payroll—poor vetting or just lack of it.
Ghost workers are a big headache to both national and county governments as President Uhuru Kenyatta and governors struggle to slash the public wage bill that currently stands at over Ksh700 billion ($7 billion).
Mr Mucheru’s gaffe also raises serious questions on the quality of background checks nominees are subjected to before they are appointed to run government department and agencies.
Ideally, gazette notices are supposed to go through several stages of approval—with selection committees and lawyers at KFCB and the ICT ministry, and editors at The Government Printer going through the names.
But the appointment has also left KFCB exposed to scrutiny considering that it sponsored Kochalle’s obituary in June 2018.
Following online outrage that greeted the gazette notice, KFCB boss Ezekiel Mutua on Thursday defended the appointment.
“Small issue being blown out of proportion,” he tweeted. “The board presented the notification to the ministry (of ICT) for replacement and inadvertently he was reappointed.”
“It was not CS Mucheru’s mistake at all as the conversation started when KFCB was under Ministry of Sports & Culture,” he added.
But his explanations and defences have done little to stop angry Kenyans who are demanding answers.
“Small issue? It is a display of mediocrity in government offices,” said IreneNM#Tujadili @TuJadili.
@AmthePaul fired: “This cannot be small because the man is entitled to a salary, allowances and holds a public position, which had we not raised, would have passed.”
“I think he has been appointed because he has qualification we all don’t have. ‘He has experience in death’”, posted @callmejohnte
Other Kenyans online took time to reflect on the scourge of ghost workers.
@RRosheeroh replied saying “In Kenya the dead vote so they deserve the appointments.”
@BrianOkumba posted that “They work with minimum supervision.”
Following public uproar, the minister on Friday replaced Kochalle with his widow Charity.