On Friday, May 11, President Kibaki appointed 47 County Commissioners. This he did citing section 17 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which says' Within 5 years after the effective date (i.e. 27th August 2010), the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this constitution'.The County Commissioner and The County Governor are two separate entitities. The former is appointed by the National Government and thus will be accountable to it and the later is elected by the voters in the county and is expected to be downwardly accountable to the people. Do we need both? or can the governor do the work of both with support from the National Government? If the central government is busy thinking of its presence at the local level and is putting structures, who will put the structures of the County Governments? Is this not setting the grounds for a failed start of County Governments and hence dashing the hopes of Kenyans?
Its worth noting that according to article 6 and Schedule 4 of the constitution, both the National and County Governments have responsibilities at the local level. But the spirit of Article 174 (h) one gets the idea that the presence of the functions of the National Government at the local level are to be performed through the county governments. However, the interpretation of the President is that both the National and County Governments are to be present side by side at the local level. If this is the case then we may be headed for interesting times with an elected County Governor and appointed County Commissioner fighting for space. There should be no conflict but our experience has shown that there has been little support for full fledged local governance and this causes us to get concerned. Further the experience with District Commissioners and Local Authorities has been one of duplication, non-coordination and hence wastage of precious resources. Is this what we getting back too? Having two governments at the same level?
The appointments came at an interesting time and were also done in an interesting way. First there is clearly no observance of Article 27 on gender balance and also there are far too many persons from the same ethnic community. A better balance would have been most appreciated. Secondly, coming at a time when the County Government Bill has not been ascented too based on contentions about the security clause, it leaves many questions unanswered and may set the appointed officials on a colition path with the soon to be elected governors. One would have expected that we first, put in place the county governments structure and then we are in a better position to see how best to restructure provincial administration. And there is five years to do that. Why the hurry?
I hope this can be looked into afresh and I urge all leaders to avoid statements that will fuel up conflicts. At the end of the day, all Kenyans want is a system that works for their common good.
In Service to God and Our Country
Abraham Rugo Muriu