Friday, November 30, 2012

The Coming Devolved Government: How well do we understand it?

When we go to elections on March 4, 2013 we will be saying goodbye to our current system of centralized government. We will usher in a decentralized government through creation of county governments. These 47 units will have powers and functions to deliver certain public services. They will effectively take up roles that were initially carried out by the provincial administration and local authorities, though not all as some will be taken up by the national government. The coming changes are immense and need wisdom in instituting them.

Kenya's devolved system bestows power in the executive and legislative bodies in the county governments. At the top of county government system there will be three important organs.

  1. County Executive Committee (CEC): Each county executive will be headed by a popularly elected governor and deputy governor. The governor shall form a 'cabinet' known as the county executive committee of at most 10 persons who are not elected in any office of the public. Thus the CEC shall be comprised of 13 persons including the County Secretary
  2. County Public Service: Below the CEC will be the County Public Service headed by the County Secretary working working with the County Public Service Board. All public officers appointed in the county will be recruited by this board competitively.
  3. The County Assembly (CA): This will be comprised of persons elected from each ward in the county as well as those nominated from party lists based on proportion of votes won. The county assembly is the legislative body of the county. It will be headed by the Speaker working with the County Assembly Service Board. The CA is responsible of making county laws, policies, approving budgets and providing oversight in service delivery within the county. County Assembly representatives are not allowed to be involved directly or indirectly in service delivery. This is in accordance to the principle of separation of powers.
 Within each county there shall be various service and governance units all of which shall be under appointed officers or boards. This are:-
  1. Cities and Urban Areas which shall be categorized as either City, Municipality or town. Each of this unit shall be under a board. Such board shall have members appointed from various professions and interest groups and they shall work on part time basis. The secretary of the board shall be the city, municipality or town manager. This shall be a professional officer charged with the day to day service delivery within the specific city or urban area.
  2. Other areas that shall fall under sub-county which shall be equivalent to Constituencies. Each sub-county will be divided into wards and each ward into villages. Each of this units shall be headed by an appointed administrator.

All appointments within the county shall be vetted and approved by the County Assembly.

From the foregoing one observes that we have to be extra vigilant in deciding who to elect as the county governor as well as county assembly representative. A governor with an unsurpportive county assembly will not function. The elected governor should be a people and resource manager. One with a vision and clear strategy to get the county headed to prosperity. A negotiator who can convince the county assembly, national government and other investors to support the county. A mobilizer who can rally people to support his policies and pay taxes to ensure efficient service delivery. An innovator who can lead the county to great investment paths that will see less money leave the county and more come in. A common sense thinker who will deal with problems as they are and lead the county towards prosperity. In this we the citizens have to take up our responsibilities and demand our rights.

This we need to do knowing that future generations will celebrate or mourn our decisions. This we do in Service to God and Our Country.

Abraham Rugo Muriu

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