By EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Monday, July 11 2011 at 18:18
Posted Monday, July 11 2011 at 18:18
A tug-of-war erupted on Monday between the Government and the team charged with implementation of the new constitution over payment of salaries.
The altercation could distract implementation of the new Constitution as the country rushes to enact dozens of key legislation before the elections next year.
The Government declared it will not pay what it described as "exorbitant" salaries demanded by Commission for Implementation of the Constitution.
Five CIC commissioners led by vice-chairperson Elizabeth Muli said they have not been paid for the past seven months and blamed it on a directive by Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura to Treasury not to the process the salaries.
“The directive by the head of public Service amounts to instructing ministries to violate the law. It is a clear demonstration that the head of Public Service is living in the old dispensation, full of impunity and hell bent on violating the Constitution,” said Dr Muli.
“If the anti-reform forces in government are not stopped from their nefarious activities, the CIC regrets that the implementation process will grind to a halt,” the commission said.
However, the Government argued that that the salaries demanded were not only above normal rates for other state officers, but also unsustainable.
According to Dr Alfred Mutua, the government spokesman, the commission had demanded Sh1.3 million monthly salary for chairman Charles Nyachae, Sh1.17 for the vice chairman while the other seven commissioner would receive Sh1.14 million each per month.
“The government has asked the Public Service Commission and the Treasury to review the proposed salaries downward to more sustainable levels that are a reflection of a our poor economy and reality,” he told journalists on Monday.
But five CIC commissioners maintained their terms had been discussed and agreed by the Treasury and the Public Service Commission.
Dr Muli defended their salary demand saying it falls within Band AI of the Constitutional Offices Remuneration Act.
Public servants in the band earn a maximum of Sh916,500 with allowances totalling to Sh442,000.
She also accused Mr Muthaura of derailing their efforts to employ technical staff and set up a secretariat.
The team said that Mr Muthaura was part of anti-reform forces in the Executive.
“The refusal to facilitate the establishment of a secretariat is undoubtedly an agenda by the head of public service to derail implementation of the new Constitution,” they said in a statement.
Five commissioner noted that they will appoint a lawyer to demand their unpaid salaries.
Due lack of payment, the commissioner who indicted that they had not been given a medical cover, declared that they may be forced to work part-time.
The Monday exchange was a culmination of quite but heated communication between the commission, Mr Muthaura and the Justice ministry.
The Nation obtained a letter by Mr Muthaura to Mr Nyachae which appeared to suggest that the salaries were a bit high.
“I wish to remind the commissioners that in determining the level of pay, the government will always be guided by the prevailing economic circumstances while appreciating the role of the commission and other players in implementation of the new Constitution,” says the letter.
“The government has the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that public resources are used prudently for various purposes.
This includes pay and benefits applicable to all employees in the Public Service including constitutional office holders.”
On Monday, the CIC commissioners claimed that unlike other public servants in the bracket who did not pay taxes and benefited from sitting allowances, their salaries would be taxed. And they will be entitled to sitting allowances.
Besides, the CIC has asked the auditor general establish the status of funds allocated to them in the last financial year.
The commissioners sounded the alarm that they will not be in a position to process key Bills required by the end of the year unless the commission is given resources to set up a secretariat.
These include the National Service Bill, National Security Council Bill, National Intelligence Service Bill as well as legislation on land, public finance, leadership and integrity and devolution.