BBI chairman Yusuf Haji, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House during the handing over of the BBI report.
SKIN IN THE GAME: BBI chairman Yusuf Haji, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House during the handing over of the BBI report.
Image: PSCU

By Reporter

The Building Bridges Initiative has made radical recommendations to extinguish or reduce inequality, public mismanagement and graft. It would compel ministers to use public facilities.

Among wide-ranging suggestions, the BBI task force recommends that all Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and top public officials be required to be treated at public hospitals and send their children to public schools.

This would be a huge shocker for top government officials used to generous medical covers enabling them to receive health services at top-notch private hospitals including those oversees.

Parliament will debate the recommendations and lawmakers are unlikely to favour these.

Calling for having “skin in the game”, the 14-man team recommends this policy be cascaded down to include county executive committee members and their chief officers.

If it is good enough for Kenyans, it should be good enough for you… All Ministers should use public facilities and services. These principles should be reflected in the Counties with the County Executives.
BBI report

That way they will understand the wananchi’s experience, needs and learn first-hand the inadequacies of public services and facilities — from hospitals to schools.

The idea, according to the report, is to ensure that policymakers use public services so they get a true taste of the services that they develop and manage on behalf of Kenyans.

“If it is good enough for Kenyans, it should be good enough for you… All Ministers should use public facilities and services. These principles should be reflected in the Counties with the County Executives,” the report states. The task force is chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.

Public hospitals, for instance, have been cited for lack of equipment and drug. Cancer patients are sometimes forced to wait for months for treatment as their health deteriorates.

Additionally, Kenyan ministers and top state officials have been accused of taking their children to high-end international schools while ignoring public schools which have become synonymous with the poor. In rural areas many have crumbling mud walls; middle-class schools are far from ideal. 

In selecting the Cabinet, the report states, the president must appoint only “individuals who enjoy public and professional respect”.

“All cabinet ministers should have a demonstrable track record of integrity that allows them public respect and the high regard of public officers who will serve under them,” the report states.

It recommends strengthening the Leadership and Integrity Act, which is meant to operationalise Chapter Six of the Constitution.

The BBI team also wants political and public officers leading departments mentioned in connection with irregularities, including corruption, to step aside immediately.

Those who should relinquish their positions include public officers cited for negligence or poor quality government actions. Stepping aside would be a sign of “honourable regard for the Kenyan people”, the report says.

“Leaders and managers should understand that resignation is not only appropriate where direct responsibility is established: it helps start with a new slate so the changes that the institution requires can be undertaken,” the task force says.

The report also proposes that public servants in the highest monthly salary bracket exceeding Sh200, 000 should have their increments limited to tame the ballooning public sector wage bill.

To ensure inclusivity, which was part of its nine-point agenda, the task force has recommended that employment in all branches and levels of government should be by merit and reflect the proportions of ethnic groups.

the Haji-led team proposes that recruitment into the disciplined forces should be overhauled and contracted to “private sector recruitment companies with internationally reputable brands”.

This will include recruitment into the Kenya Defence Forces, the Kenya Police, the Kenya Forest Service, the Kenya Prisons, among others.

The BBI report says recruitments have been riddled with graft “which causes incoming officers to be inducted into a bribe-demanding culture right from the start of their careers”.

Public boarding schools and universities must have students from different regions. Special efforts needed to integrate schools to include communities known to fight over resources such as water and pasture — especially in the north.
BBI report

“A critical aspect of inclusivity is that it must be perceived as reality, especially in job allocation in the Public Service, which should reflect the ethnic, religious, regional and cultural Face of Kenya, and should be free of corruption in recruitment,” the report states.

The report says that where there is no candidate with the right qualifications, the Public Service Commission and counties should be empowered to undertake professional search and development for minority candidates to increase their chances of qualifying for the positions.

In a fresh challenge to the Ministry of Education, the team says the government should ensure that public secondary boarding schools have representation from different counties — amounting to at least 50 per cent of the student body.

“The Ministry of Education should deliberately and transparently ensure that public boarding schools and universities have students from different parts of the country. Special efforts should be made to integrate schools to include communities that have been known to fight over resources such as water and pasture — especially in the northern part of the country,” the report reads.

In a big win for Kenyans in the diaspora, the report recommends that individuals with dual citizenship should not be barred from being state officers.

The only people who should be barred, the report recommends, are the President who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, members of the Defence Forces, and the membership of the Defence Council.

“Regarding Kenyans with dual citizenship as being somehow untrustworthy or unworthy amounts to discrimination and a lowered standard of protection and recognition. Kenyans willing to serve should be judged according to their character and track record and not presumed to have split loyalties that compromise their integrity or patriotism,” the report states.

To reduce a bloated workforce in the counties, the team proposes that the county public service boards should be strengthened and insulated from politicisation.

The team also wants the number of persons that may be employed in a county government limited by providing a set, nationwide ratio, as a ceiling, between county population and number of employees.

In addressing the alarming level of stalled cunty projects with each change of administration, the BBI team want the Treasury to stop releasing the money to new governors before obtaining a list of incomplete projects and a plan for their completion.

In cases where the incoming governor does not want to complete a project, there should be a detailed explanation of the legitimate cause for it being halted, BBI says.

Governors seeking to initiate projects towards the end of their terms would have to think twice as the BBI team wants the Controller of Budget, the county assemblies and the Senate to tighten oversight of election-cycle projects.

With counties under the microscope for being graft citadels, the report recommends the office of the Auditor General be further strengthened and resourced to devolve work to the counties for closer scrutiny.

In what is seen as a big win for MCAs, the report proposes that wards be made the nerve centres of development with the Commission for Revenue Allocation being asked to target wards in county budgets.

Wards from marginalised areas would be treated differently, under the proposals, as the CRA will now have to factor in other social and economic indicators like the level of wellbeing, security and environmental sustainability.

BBI proposes that wards which are the most marginalised, at present and historically, be enabled by the national government to catch up with the rest by building schools, health facilities, roads, water, electricity and police stations within three years.

Tackling the gaming menace that has been blamed for high indebtedness of the Kenyan youth, the report proposes that the private betting industry be replaced with a Government-run national lottery

Proceeds from such gaming, as is the case in other countries, would be used for activities that uplift the youth, sports, culture and other beneficial social activities.