Newly elected and re-elected governors this week took office by storm – literally. No sooner had they been sworn-in than the county chiefs moved to stamp their authority.
The first to feel the impact of the post-election tempest were county employees. The new (or reconditioned) brooms have spent their first days in office sweeping left, right and out.
In Tharaka Nithi, the new governor Muthomi Njuki reportedly suspended nearly 1,000 employees whom he said had been hired on open contracts.
The governor said an audit will determine whether his administration needs the services of the suspended employees or not. Although he is embarking on his second term, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua sent 437 workers packing chap chap just a day after he was sworn-in.
Like in Tharaka-Nithi, the employees, a majority from the finance department, are the subject of an audit. Speaking of finance, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko did not just stop at ordering investigations of two senior officers at the Finance department, in his Sonkoesque style, the flamboyant governor carried out a sting operation at City Hall’s cash office where he found Sh7 million in rate collections that was yet to be banked.
The firing fever has also been reported in Kisumu where Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has announced the sacking of all members of County Executive Committee and chief officers.
Unlike Nyong’o, most governors are not directly telling their ministers and chief officers that they should begin to don their tarmacking shoes and look for new jobs. But the writing is clearly on the wall – in form of newspaper advertisements announcing vacancies in their positions.
While most governors are using politically-correct terms like “suspension to allow an audit”, Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga is shooting straight.
According to media reports, Rasanga said, during his inauguration for a second term, that employees who supported his opponent in the election should not bother to report to work.
The firing craze has been so widespread that it has raised alarm among some offices including that of the chair of the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Spokesman and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), all of whom have warned the governors that they do not have a blank cheque on employment matters in their counties.
Not every new broom has been sweeping away undesirable employees, however. In Taita Taveta, the new governor Granton Samboja reportedly swept in with a new dress code.
Samboja’s chief of staff Philemon Mwaisaka said employees will be required to dress “decently” including in jackets and neckties, under the new administration. That means in the new dispensation, a dress-down could attract a dressing down – if not a sack.