Kenya: Outrage Over Mary Wambui Appointment to Employment Authority

15 October 2019

Hours after the government announced several appointments to various positions in two agencies late on Monday, Kenyans have taken to social media to express their displeasure with some of those picked for the posts.

In a special Gazette Notice dated October 14, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced he had appointed eight people to the State Corporations Advisory Committee, while the Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announced he had appointed a chairperson for the National Authority of Employment (NEA).

It is CS Yatani's choice that has outraged Kenyans, who wondered whether the appointment of former Othaya member of Parliament Mary Wambui, 75, was done on merit.

Kenyans including political leaders, on social media, claimed Ms Wambui is out of touch with the realities of young unemployed graduates in the country.

They have questioned the former lawmaker's capacity to deliver on her new mandate.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Dismissing the appointment, Jubilee nominated Senator Millicent Omanga described it a sad day and a spat on the face of Kenyan youth.

Senator Omanga expressed doubts that Ms Wambui possesses the ability "to craft strategies and policy formulations" to eradicate youth unemployment in the country.

"Does Wambui have the remotest idea what it feels like to hold a degree certificate yet you can't find a job with it?" Ms Omanga posed, arguing that by appointing her to the agency, the government had demonstrated its lack of seriousness in addressing the challenge of unemployment.

Others argued that by appointing Ms Wambui, who is "rich, powerful and well-connected", the government had contributed to worsening youth unemployment levels.

"Hapa ni kubaya. Watu wanatolewa retirement kupewa job; sisi wengine tulipe ushuru wapate mishahara (The situation is bad. Retirees are being recalled and offered jobs while the rest of us have to pay taxes for their salaries)," Mutichilo Mike noted.

JOB CREATION

Former presidential candidate Mohamed Abduba Dida termed the appointment as shocking, saying it showed the government's "consistency and dedication towards failure."

"When you think you have seen it all, the government pulls another one," he added.

Others said such appointments dented President Kenyatta's legacy.

When he took over power in 2013, the President vowed to fight youth unemployment and to create 500,000 new jobs every year. That has not been the case.

"In a nation where unemployment is a real crisis for the youth, such crucial positions need visionary leaders," David Musyoka argued, adding that such positions should not be "reward schemes for political loyalty".

"We are now lacking direction," Sammy Mohammed lamented, wondering, "How can we grow our economy by recycling these old MPs?"

Mr Mohammed went on to suggest that the President should "try one of us" to assess the youth's competency and suitability.

Mary Wambui was the MP for Othaya Constituency, Nyeri County from 2013 and 2017.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, nine out of every 10 unemployed Kenyans are below 35 years.

The bureau puts the overall unemployment rate in the country at between 7 and 12 percent, a figure that is disputed.

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