Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The State will drop the requirement for people seeking employment in governments and parastatals to get clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) ahead of applying for the jobs if MPs approve changes to the law.
The government, through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2022, wants the recruiting agency to seek the integrity report of shortlisted candidates only from the EACC.
This will be a departure from the current requirement that demands applicants to seek clearance with the EACC ahead of applying for jobs in government, counties, parastatals and other State agencies for a fee.
Now, counties, parastatals and ministries will seek the EACC clearance within seven days of shortlisting the top candidates.
This will ease the job seekers’ financial burden given the Sh2,500 fee for the EACC clearance and load of the application, which must be signed by a commissioner of oaths and ID, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN certificate and academic papers attached.
“Where a public entity is recruiting staff, it shall, within seven days after shortlisting candidates for any position for which appointment is considered, submit the list of all the shortlisted candidates to the commission for integrity suitability verification,” reads part of the Bill.
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The EACC clearance is one of the consents, including the okay of KRA, credit reference bureaus, Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) and Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) that persons seeking public service jobs must seek.
Twalib Mbarak, EACC chief executive, says the changes to the law will ease the burden on first-time jobseekers.
"We agreed with MPs that there are so many documents needed when one is seeking employment. For a first-time job seeker, those documents require money and for one document, they require a minimum of Sh2,500. If it is four documents, one needs Sh10,000 yet these are jobless Kenyans," he said.
Mr Mbarak said the amendments to the Leadership and Integrity Act would now require State agencies to seek EACC clearance for only shortlisted candidates and not those applying for employment.
"Imagine if 5,000 first time job seekers apply for say 10 vacancies in a public agency, will the government not have cheated 4,990 young people out of their money which they spent on securing clearance certificates?. It makes sense for State employers to send the shortlist to us for integrity verification," he said.
The EACC will cease issuing clearance certificates and instead submit a confidential report on the shortlisted applicants.
"In making recommendations, the commission may consider any other information with respect to the integrity suitability of the applicant," the Bill says.
"The recruiting entity shall take into account the recommendations on the integrity suitability of candidates in making appointment decisions," the Bill states.
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This means that ministries and parastatals cannot overlook integrity breaches flagged by the EACC.
Mr Mbarak said the amendment is meant to cure instances where public entities hire people through gazette notices while disregarding the advisory of the anti-graft watchdog.
"Hiring has happened before when a person was appointed through a gazette notice but we wrote to require the revocation of the hiring," he said.
The EACC clearance and the periodic civil servants’ wealth checks are aimed at curbing graft in the public service.
The Public Officer Ethics Act requires all State officers to submit their wealth declaration forms once every two years.
Section 26 of the Act stipulates that public servants reveal their incomes, bank deposits and assets such as land, buildings and vehicles once every two years. The filing must also capture the wealth of their spouses and children aged below 18.
The full financial disclosure is meant to allow the EACC to detect and prevent corruption when top public servants are serving in office.
The information contained in the wealth declaration forms remains confidential and can only be accessed by those in pursuit of public interest.
A Bill before Parliament aims to remove restrictions on Kenyans seeking to access information on income, assets and liabilities of persons holding public offices.
Analysts say restrictions on public access to wealth declaration forms — which have been in place since 2003 — have done little to discourage public servants from engaging in graft or promote accountability and transparency.
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Several top public servants are fighting asset freezes and seizures after investigations revealed secret bank accounts, cars, and apartments that could not match their pay.
This is a pointer that some civil servants fail to make full disclosures in the wealth declaration forms. The wealth of top State officials — including the President and his deputy — will be made public if MPs accept a fresh bid to change the law on lifestyle audits.