Thursday, April 4, 2013

Refocusing the Devolution Debate

I feel the debate of why we devolved government is dwelling on non essentials - flags, names (Hon or HE), houses, cars, offices and personal assistants (drivers etc) for ourr good governors. Multiply this with 47 and add their deputies, speakers and other senior officials and we already cannot afford before we even start it. Our (my) reasons for supporting devolution was to ensure better representation and improved service delivery. Thus the question should be: Is our voice better represented and are we setting the systems that will assure better service delivery. Anything else is a side show and will soon degenerate to back passing. The loosers in all this will be you and I who have little say in the fight for power. 

The constitution of Kenya provides for two levels of government with functions to be delivered to every citizen. In their wisdom the members of Parliament passed the National Government Coordination Act on 16 January 2013. This is in live with Schedule 6 Section 17 that requires that the Provincial Administration be restructured to be in accordance with the county system. It legitimizes the role of County Commissioners, their deputies, chiefs and assistant chiefs in each county. Their role is to coordinate the delivery of national government services as provided for in schedule 4. Thus the national government is represented by the County Commissioner (appointed) at the county level and the County Government by the Governor (elected). The question is: Do we need both? and is there value added in having the County Commissioners? Let us remember that at least 85 per cent of our expenditure is with the National Government and 15 per cent is with the County Government. I do not see the challenge of who should report to the other (Governor or County Commissioner).  

My problem is how to ensure that:-

1. every service that kenyans are entitled too is delivered effectively and efficiently while ensuring value for resources spent
2. both county government (governor) and national government (county commissioners) are accountable for the application of public resources
3. that citizens are assured of a recourse measure should either level of government fail in its role

While I hold in high esteem the governors we elected, it is not lost to me that they may not have the best interests of the county. Thus they need to be shielded from taking us down the drain in the pursuit of their personal interests. Governors can fly the national flag, live in the best houses and drive the latest cars all at state expense but that will be of little value if the livelihoods of the people in Kenya remains the deplorable.

Our constitution provides two measures - one is the Legislatures at both levels i.e. National Assembly, Senate and County Assemblies. Second is the Commissions and Independent Offices. This two have a key role in protecting the interests of the citizens. It is my opinion that both the governor and national officials working within each county should account to the above bodies. That way we remove this competition of who is more powerful than the other. It also provides for citizen participation including petitioning and demonstrating where their needs have not been met. 

As we move forward, lets keep this in perspective: Are we better represented and are we receiving improved services? This is what we will keep drumming until it gets done. 

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