New reports claim KRA dropped 133 recruits after HIV tests

Parliament has initiated an inquiry into the recruitment of 1,406 revenue service assistants (RSA) following 133 dismissals due to HIV and pregnancy tests.

The National Assembly’s Committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity will investigate the skewed recruitment in June 2023.

“The RSA programme had a paramilitary training element. A total of 133 candidates were eliminated on medical grounds,” Mr Wattanga said.

“The results were confidential and the doctor did not disclose to the KRA the details in line with their professional ethics and principles.”

The Kenya Revenue Service (KRA) has been accused of recruiting 1,406 revenue service assistants, a move that the High Court deemed unconstitutional.

Justice William Musyoka ruled that the recruitment process was biased towards the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities, highlighting the need for equal opportunities for appointment, training, and advancement.

“The KRA has an HIV/AIDs Workplace Policy which does not discriminate against individuals based on their HIV/AIDs status,” Mr Wattanga said.

“The RSA has a dimension of paramilitary training, which requires physical fitness and protection of life during training. This approach was purely anchored on [sic] health and safety for this group of persons to help maintain training readiness and reduce risk to potential recruits.”

The committee, however, demanded to know why the 133 recruits were dismissed given that the Constitution and the Employment Act prohibit discrimination in hiring based on health status.

“There is no doubt that gross violation of rights has been committed in the recruitment of the RSA. Just accept that you have grossly violated over 20 Articles of the Constitution and the relevant laws on human rights,” Mr Haji said.

“We will retreat and make a decision on the next step. The mood of my members is that we open a full inquiry into this recruitment.”

Mr Wattanga told the committee the recruitment of the assistants is still subject to a court process after the Busia Court directed the KRA to put in place an ethnic diversity and regional balance policy within 30 days.

Mr Wattanga explained that the RSA programme has helped the KRA to collect Sh180.59 million over the last six months.

“The field officers have played a crucial role in supporting KRA’s efforts to collect additional revenue and tackle tax evasion,” Mr Wattanga said, adding that the field officers have been instrumental in identifying 20,551 unregistered taxpayers and bringing an additional 10,515 taxpayers into compliance with various tax obligations.

The KRA says recognising the challenges faced by field officers in dealing with diverse taxpayers and complex tax evasion schemes, it provided comprehensive training to equip the recruits with both tax knowledge and paramilitary skills.

“The paramilitary training aimed to instil values such as discipline, dedication, perseverance, courage, and commitment in their service to the Kenyan people.”

The KRA said that it respects the decision made by the court and is reviewing its Diversity and Inclusion Policy to address the concerns raised.

The High Court has, however, stayed and suspended its judgment for 30 days with effect from March 1, 2024.


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