Devolution And Governance: Part One

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kWell, there are those times you wish you could speak – write – on a topic but you like the right words to use. Then you think ‘oh! I know of a guy who can speak about that in the way I want it!’ With that alone, you pick up a phone and make a call, or still you hit the chat button on social media and voila! The guy is there, ready and willing to share!

That’s the situation I was in before this amazing guy came to my rescue… Without much ado, let’s evaluate the government’s commitment – or lack of it – together.

By Bonface Sila

Devolution is one of the main reasons that Kenyans voted in the new Constitution in 2010. It is a system of governance that recognizes the importance of people’s participation in governance and in making decisions that affect them without the interference of the National government.

As a matter of fact, the Kenyan Constitution has a whole Chapter (Chapter 11) which contains the Objects and Principles that guide the system of governance. Devolution as a system of governance recognizes the rights of people to manage their own affairs and to further their own development without any interference whatsoever, from the National government.

However, in some few instances, the National government has a responsibility, through the Senate, to take corrective measures where it is found that a Governor and his County Executive Committee from a particular County has either overstepped their Mandate (acted ultra vires) or under performed his duties.

However, there are some instances in which the Government is not showing its commitment to the devolution process.

To start with,Whenever the National Governments take necessary measures through the support of the Senate to address issues which affect the Counties Collectively….I refer that to be “General Interference”. On the other hand, when the National raises a red flag in regards to the management of a given County(s) in regards to a Governor overstepping his mandate or under-performing his duties, I refer to that as “Particular Interference”.

However, no matter what circumstances, Particular Interference needs to have the approval of the senate in order for any corrective measures to be taken.

In the recent past, we have witnessed the National Government’s Interference on general matters affecting the Counties without the approval of the Senate. The Deputy President who is the Principal Assistant to the Kenyan President has by all means usurped the powers of the Senate and he has been hosting Governors at his New Residence in Karen to decide on what is good for the Counties and also what is not good.

It is important to note that all the issues that are discussed at the Deputy Presidents Residence can also be better discussed by the Senate at K.I.C.C, where many experienced, learned and qualified minds are stationed at for the purposes of discussing general issues which affect the 47 Counties in Kenya.

Some issues of general nature and which have been discussed at Deputy President’s office with outright disregard of the Senate include;
1) the reasonable percentage funds to be allocated to the Counties;
2) prescribing the format of Governors Budgeting;
3) Cost Cutting of the budgets that were recently submitted by all Governors;
4) the need for a referendum to strengthen County governance;
5) Refusal by the National Government to allocate funds that are meant for the already transferred functions like Health and Agriculture;
6) the number of functions to be transferred now and also in the future;
7) Demands by Governors to fly National Flags on their cars etc.

On the other hand, interference of a Particular Nature by the National government without the involvement of the Senate, though minimal, has been witnessed too. Reports from all sections of the media (both print and electronic) indicate a strong desire by the National government to;
1) refuse to gazette a number of Counties for failure of meeting certain requirements; and
2) refusal to allocate funds to a number of counties.

(The Writer is a Political Commentator)

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