On the back of some Cabinet secretaries dabbling in politics, the anti-corruption agency has cautioned appointed State officers risk prosecution for participating in political party affairs.
In a circular addressed to Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has stressed appointed public officers are prohibited from activities that undermine the “political neutrality of their office”.
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak has directed any appointed public officer holding a position in a political party to resign immediately and those engaged in political campaigns to cease.
“It has come to our attention that some officers in public service are getting involved in the promotion or advancement of activities and affairs of political parties, including taking up office in political parties, to the prejudice of public duties, and in contravention of express provisions of the Constitution and the law,” Mr Mbarak cautioned in the circular dated October 1.
The EACC cited Article 77(2) of the Constitution, which prohibits appointed public officers from holding office in political parties and further restrictions detailed in the Leadership and Integrity Act, including being barred from engaging in political party activities and publicly supporting partisan party causes.
“This prohibition is amplified under Section 23 of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, which provides that an appointed officer shall not engage in activities of any political party or candidate, or act as an agent of a political party or candidate in an election,” the circular read in part.
“The commission requires all appointed State and public officers to refrain from any conduct that could be inimical to the above mandatory requirements,” it stated.
Mr Mbarak went on: “The commission advises that any public officer who could be currently holding an office in a political party is in violation of the law and liable to the applicable sanctions, including within their respective institutional codes of conduct and ethics.”
“Accordingly, any appointed public officer falling in the above category is required to immediately resign from such office,” Mr Mbarak directed.
The circular is addressed to the secretary, Parliamentary Service Commission, chief registrar of the Judicial Service Commission, all principal secretaries, secretaries/chief executive officers of independent commissions, county secretaries and county assembly clerks.
It is copied to the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu, and chairperson of the Public Service Commission Stephen Kirogo.
The warning shot comes as campaigns are under way less than two years to the next election.
The directive affects politicians appointed to the boards of various state corporations.
Some CSs and PSs have also been accused of taking part in partisan political campaigns.
Public Officers…are expected to observe political neutrality.
According to the Leadership and Integrity Act, no appointed state official shall engage in any political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of their office.
“Public Officers, as trustees of the people of Kenya, are expected to observe political neutrality, and that at all times direct their energies towards accountable, efficient and responsive delivery of public services,” Mr Mbarak wrote in the circular.
Raphael Tuju, a Cabinet secretary without portfolio, is the Jubilee secretary-general.
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko last month sparked a political storm when he called Deputy President William Ruto a mere clerk.
“Respect is a two-way traffic. If you cannot respect the President, then you do not deserve to be respected by anyone. In fact, the Deputy President is a clerk to the President,” Mr Tobiko said in Kajiado.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa has attended political meetings to court Luhya unity and rally support for the Building Bridges Initiative.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his PS Karanja Kibicho have also drawn the wrath of the DP and his allies.
Without mentioning their names, Dr Ruto has openly charged the CS and PS were appointees and should do the work they are constitutionally mandated to do.
“Some leaders have made it a habit to meet political delegations and hold gatherings in markets and other places to distract Kenyans from supporting the President with his national development agenda. They tell you that the government, in which they serve, has failed you. This is wrong and amounts to sabotage,” Dr Matiang’i said in Nyamira last Sunday.