By Lillian Mutheu
An approximate of 283,00 youths were hired months ago to work in phase two of Kazi Mtaani initiative. Kazi mtaani is a programme by the national government aimed at providing job opportunities and cushioning the youth during this coronavirus period. Great consideration is given to those living in informal settlements, slums and humble backgrounds.
The Kazi mtaani initiative has been controversial since it was launched. Many Kenyan youths in urban centres and especially Nairobi depend on this programme for their daily bread. There have been speculations as to the criteria used to hire youths since the day it was launched, with many claims of nepotism and irregularities in paying them being reported. However, the government through the Housing PS Charles Hinga dismissed these claims a while ago terming them as untrue. While on tour to inspect projects in Naivasha on July 17th, Mr Hinga denied the accusations of nepotism, non- payment and late payment of wages in the Kazi Mtaani Initiative.
However, things in the ground are quite different. These claims are not entirely true. Over the past few weeks, there have been many complaints about the Kazi Mtaani Initiative. Many youths especially from Embakasi complained of half pay even after working double shifts. “The Kazi Mtaani Initiative that we have right now is not what it used to be. The government has completely forgotten about this programme they once yaped about every week. The government has left us in the hands of corrupt District Commissioners and Officers,” complained one Kamau Njogu.
“When we started the Kazi Mtaani initiative, we used to work in shifts. There was shift one and shift two. Members of each shift used to work for 11 working days. This would be an approximate of around two weeks. After shift one members do their shift, they would take an 11 working days leave as shift two members got to work in their turn. The program was orderly and youths would get enough time to rest. Right now, there is no such thing as resting. We work five working days a week, every week without shifts,” said Irene Iminza, a youth from Embakasi.
“Even after working throughout the week from Monday to Friday every week, that is like double shit, they still pay stipends for a single shift. No one can raise a voice to ask why they are being unfair to us because those officers can fire you any time, and we need this job to feed ourselves and our families,” narrated Tshisi Faith.” They can fire you for little petty mistakes. If you arrive to work even ten minutes late and woe unto you, if the officers are around, you get fired. A friend of mine got fired for taking a long-call break. He had gone to relieve himself and on coming back, the officer had his name withdrawn from the payroll,” said Tshisi.
It is high time that the government launched investigations to probe these claims of unfair treatment to the youths working under Kazi Mtaani Initiative. These corrupt officers should be brought to book. Kazi Mtaani is work just like any other and employees should be treated fairly within the labour laws of the Republic of Kenya.