In later days the provincial administration officers were to play a key role in the running of the ruling party – KANU. At one point it was even difficult to distinguish the boundary between KANU officials and government officials as each played the others role. PA officers became lords in their areas and dictated on every matter. Anyone opposing them was seen as an enemy of the state and acting in direct defiance of the president and was dealt with by brute force and without any fair trial. It is this that has bred distrust and negativity among the Kenyan people for the institution. However in practice the administrative functions they provided have been critical especially in the resolving of social wrongs, certification in matters of registration of persons and property, and as agents of the government on matter of law and order.
Density (persons per km2)
Poverty Incidence (%)
Given that political organization in Kenya has largely been on ethnic lines, we have started seeing possibilities of certain counties having an assembly and executive with members from only one community. This is why certain county assemblies will be without a single opposition member, as all persons elected are from the dominant political party. Examples are Mombasa with all MCAs from ODM, Kirinyaga with only one MCA from outside TNA out of 20, Kisumu and Elgeyo Marakwet where all MCAs save three are from URP.. This presents a unique challenge for democracy in Kenya. The constitution makes provision for law to ensure that the county government reflects the community and cultural diversity and protection of minorities (Art. 197). In counties like this, diversity and minority protection may only be achieved through the party list members (often called “nominated”), for marginalized groups and gender balance, but it is unclear how far this has actually been achieved.
Assessing the impact of the current structure
There has been criticism of the scheme of building devolution on the basis of sharing national revenue because it creates an impression that there are unlimited resources held in some place that need sharing. It is emerging that with counties wanting to control more and more resources, counties with limited resource endowment may find it difficult to run. This is because the national government will have less and less revenue to share out. And those likely to be affected the most are the larger, and poorer, counties although that may be debatable too, especially with discovery of oil in Turkana and gas in Marsabit, as well as the great livestock potential of these areas. A shift of focus to internal generation of wealth through available opportunities would seem a better approach to address the economic challenge of counties.