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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homecoming

It is great to be back home. Now I appreciate home than even before. I have seen the said first world and indeed its advanced. Germany is a rule based society where efficiency and time keeping are the values of honour. Where your word is to be trusted and where what you see is what you get. They are technologically advanced and have very reliable public funded safety nets. Their public transport is great and the general organization of their economy well run. They have food for their people and shelter for all. They are a very hard working people and for them if you cannot do it perfectly then don’t do it at all. Now we know why Made-in-Germany is always a trademark of great worth.

They have a good decentralized government and many small functional cities. The land side where they produce their food and the forest covers are well guarded. Thus most people live in the cities and towns hence freeing land for large scale production. We found that farmers especially for dairy, wheat and barley are among the very rich people. Those who live in towns and cities have the possibility to hire small plots for kitchen gardens. They thus can produce their own food...but not for sale.  Their system of education is rather relaxed and hence children get an opportunity to explore their interests at an early age. They also get to specialize rather early. Most schools are public and in almost all states education is publicly funded for all persons below age 30. Based on the right to information principle, teachers are obliged to give pupils at all ages all the necessary information including on reproductive health. It is then expected that the students would make the choices that best serve them.

All this said, what have I brought back? As as some of you may be aware, I did graduate with a Master of Public Management specializing in Public Policy and Administration. By the grace of God I topped my class. I was in an international class of 26 - 2 Ghanaians, 1 Ugandan, 1 Cameroonian, 3 Egyptians, 1 Rwandese-Canadian, 1 Kosovorian-Swissish, 1 Mongolese, 1 Guinean, 1 Japanese, 3 Vietnamesen, 2 Indonesian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Argentinian, 4 Chinesen and one Kenyan. And in some classes a few Germans. This has enabled me to get a glimpse of how the rest of the world views various issues.  My biggest concern is how I translate both the attitudes, skills and knowledge that I got into productive ideas in building our country. How do we translate the efficieny and time management of the germans, the hardwork of the Japenese, the tenacity of the chinese, the compassion of the vietnamese, the beauty of the rwandese and the elegance of the ghanians just to mention but a few into practical ways of a national lifestyle. For having looked at our country from outside, I am more than ever convinced that attitude change is a critical starting point. The heart of our problems is the problem of the heart. We need, starting with me, to search and turn our hearts. From easy income to earned income. From Godfathers to God the father. From do I know you? to are you qualified? From just speaking our mind to minding our speech. From living for the now to living with a vision. From just saying what should be done, to doing it. This turn will be unconformtable at first but is definately worth pursuing. Afterall, shall we pass out as flowers that never shined or as a clouds that never rained?

We have work to rebuild our country that we can neither delegate nor abdicate. Only we can do it. As we register and prepare to vote a new government at National and County level. Let us not plan to leave it to them to lead as they wish, we need to be involved. The Constitution provides a prime place for citizen participation in decision making. Let us apply ourselves to every opportunity that is there. Let us live and teach our children to live by the labour of their hands. To aim high and work hard. To seek to excel in all our ways. Let us raise the standards in our body politic and service to humanity. And when all is said and done, let the be much done than said.

Abraham Rugo Muriu