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Koross admits there’s ethnic imbalance at the NSSF

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has become the latest State corporation to be put on the spot over ethnic imbalance.

The development comes after it emerged that the institution has continued to hire employees from some dominant ethnic communities with more than 17 tribes left out, failing the staff ethnic diversity test.

The damning state of affairs comes just days after the Public Service Commission (PSC) last week revealed nine tribes have been locked out of State jobs in which Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities have the lion’s share with at least 26 percent of the positions or 27,256 out of the 75,031 slots.

The revelation came days after courts nullified the hiring of revenue service assistants by the Kenya Revenue Authority over ethnic imbalance skewed in favour of the two tribes.

Senators on Tuesday took to task the NSSF Managing Trustee David Koross over the ethnic imbalance at the State corporation.

Appearing before the Senate Cohesion, Equal Opportunity and Regional Integration Committee, Mr Koross revealed that five dominant ethnic communities hold 74.25 percent of the workforce — Kalenjin, Kamba, Luo, Luhya and Kikuyu.

In documents presented before the committee chaired by Marsabit Senator Mohamed Chute, NSSF has 1,047 employees as of March 7, 2024, with the five communities taking up 779 slots.

The Kalenjin have 197 staff or 18.78 percent, Kambas come second with 188 or 17.9 percent and 136 or 12.96 percent are Luos.

Coming fourth are Luhya with 132 employees or 12.58 percent while Kikuyus with 126 employees close the top five.

NSSF staff hail from only 27 ethnic communities in Kenya, out of 43.

Some 14 communities have less than 10 members of staff. They are Teso with nine, Borana eight, Pokomo six, Njemps/Ilchamus three, Kuria, Mbeere, Rendile, Swahili and Taveta have two each, while Bajun, Elmolo, Nubi, Samburu and Suba have one each.

Mr Koross revealed that of the 15 employees NSSF hired on contract between December 29, 2022 and March 7, 2024, the five dominant communities took 10 positions with the rest going to Kisii (2), Embu, Turkana and Kenyan Somali.

“We hired four Kalenjins between December 2022 and March 7, 2024 when we filed this report,” Mr Koross told the committee.

The damning revelations triggered reactions with the committee members questioning NSSF’s continued perpetuation of ethnic imbalance in staff recruitment.

“It is no longer a mentality, it is now a fact that if our person is not at the helm (of leadership) then you cannot get a job,” said Tharaka Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya, whose Tharaka Community has no single staff at the state corporation.

The legislator decried that some communities are being treated as voting tools but are sidelined when it comes to hiring in the public service.

Nominated Senator Betty Montet asked why the NSSF has continued to hire people from communities which are grossly overrepresented in the public service.

“You found the mess there, we agree. But you have continued to do the same. You have hired more Kalenjins than others,” Ms Montet said.

Between December 29, 2022 and March 4, 2024, at least 55 people have exited NSSF with the numbers mostly from the dominant communities.

Although the National Cohesion and Integration Commission states that whereas an organisation may not at any given time have employee representation from all the 45 ethnic communities in Kenya, none of the ethnic communities should be more than 30 percent of the total workforce.

“Some of the tribes in this country are just outsiders. They are only needed during elections but they are nowhere in the public service,” Senator Gataya said.

The committee is inquiring into the ethnic and gender composition, and inclusion of people living with disabilities in the public service.

The senators directed Mr Koross to bridge the ethnic gap in the ongoing recruitment of at least 300 staff.

The Kenya Kwanza administration has been on the spot over skewed ethnic hiring with a recent report by the Public Service Commission (PSC) indicting the offices of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet secretaries are perpetuating imbalance through non-competitive recruitment.

The PSC cited the recent hiring of 250 advisers and personal staff by DP Gachagua and CSs.

“The noncompetitive appointments seemed to have compounded the problem of overrepresentation of some communities, which are already overrepresented in the service,” said the Anthony Muchiri-led Commission.

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