By Samuel Ndalusia,
December 21, 2017,
They say action speaks louder than words. As many Kenyans have had their eyes trained on the opposition coalition’s electoral justice with regards to secession debate, People’s Assembly agenda and following up on the coalition’s activities geared towards realization of secession by some counties to form ‘the People’s Republic of Kenya’ away from the remaining counties that would form ‘the Central Republic of Kenya’, one of the counties in President Uhuru’s backyard has been actively positioning itself in an effort to entirely seclude itself from the rest of the country by making itself a self-reliant and self-governing county in Kenya.
The latest move by the President’s county that has raised eyebrows and elicited serious discussions among the Kenyan public, who have also expressed their deepest anger with the county assembly legislators is the passing of a controversial bill on Thursday, December 14 that forces all public and private companies and other organizations in Kiambu County to employ 70 percent of their workforce from the local community. Failure to comply with this county legislation would result in revocation of licenses and permits for the companies.
The motion was tabled in the county assembly by the Kiambu Town MCA who also doubles as the majority leader Anthony Ikenya who claimed that most residents in the county were suffering from a high rate of unemployment while most organizations and companies operating from the county were outsourcing their labour in contravention with legal provisions requiring employment of at least 70 percent of dominant ethnic communities in a county and leave 30 percent to non-dominant ethnic communities as enshrined in section 65 (1) of the County Government Acts 2012.
The Member of County Assembly for Ndeiya ward Mr. Gideon Gachara who supported the legislation argued that the current Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) construction was one of the major areas of contention alleging that the majority of employees in the organization are from counties other than Kiambu. “Our people, whom we represent, should come first since they stood by us and we need to stand by them by making sure they have jobs,” said Gachara speaking to a local media.
Kiambu County is home to many Kenyan companies and institutions including Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Mount Kenya University, Alliance Boys School and Alliance Girls School. The industries include Delmonte, Bidco Oils, Devki Steel Mills, Broadway Bakeries, Kenblest Industry, Kel Chemicals, Thika Rubber Industries Limited, Macadamia Nuts, Campwell Industry and Kenya Tanning Extracts Limited.
Other companies present in the county include the Bata Shoe Factory which is Kenya‘s major producer of leather products, Farmers´ Choice Ltd, Kenchic Co. Ltd, Brookside Dairies, Githunguri Dairies, Ndumberi Dairies, Limuru Milk and Palmside Dairies, Clay Works, Spinners and Spinners among other industries.
But now the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Francis Ole Kaparo has come out to strongly condemn the legislation by the Kiambu County MCAs terming it unconstitutional and stating that it was a sign of recklessness. He stated that the Integration Commission will issue an advisory to Kiambu and all other county governments against passing such legislation.
“I am amazed at how the county assembly can purport to direct how to employ its citizens. It is foolish. It is retrogressive and our leaders must think before they act. We must not balkanize this country along tribal lines. It will finish us,” exclaimed the popular ex-speaker of Kenyan parliament, explaining further that the 70-30 rule specified in Section 65 of the County Governments Act 2012 applies only to the staff employed by the county Public Service Board.
“It is foolish for a leader in any county to imagine residents of that county live only in that county. Kenyans live everywhere and are entitled to do so. We urge Kenyans to participate in activities that participate in national healing,” said Mr. Kaparo, adding that: “As a commission, we agitate for more progressive legislation contained in the national cohesion and integration act. It’s not morally right, it’s unacceptable. County government should bring Kenyans together and provide an equal chance of employment.”
Kiambu was among the seven counties that included Nyeri, Murang’a Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Nyandarua and Kirinyaga that were to remain behind to form the Central Republic after NASA coalition’s secession realization. The county hit the front pages of the Kenyan newspapers a few weeks ago for publishing a Kiambu County Social Study Text Book for class four pupils portraying the kikuyu community as a superior tribe in the county. The textbook elicited a wave of criticism and accusations of ethnic bias on social media from Kenyans all over the country. The book teaches the children at an early age that other tribes are only casual laborers in the flower farms and makes the “young leaders of tomorrow” view other tribes as less of Kenyans who shouldn’t even be living in the Kiambu County.