Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Governor: Politician or Manager?

This is by all means one of the most powerful positions created in the new system of government. Elected directly by the people together with the deputy governor as the running mate, the governor will be charged with heading the executive of the county government. The governor is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that  public services assigned to the county government are properly delivered. Its the governor who will ascent to all laws of the county. The governor will appoint the County Executive Committee (local cabinet) of persons not exceeding 10 from among non-County Assembly Members (CAM). Thus the largest CEC will be comprised of 12 persons. A person elected to the office of a governor can only serve for a maximum of two terms of 5 years each. There shall be a governor for each of the 47 Counties.

Though the governor will be a politician, he will be expected to play a leadership and managerial role to ensure that the county makes progress. That includes implementing all policies of the county; implement national legislation within the county to the extent expected; manage and coordinate the functions of the county administration and its departments. The governors will also be expected to lead their counties in establishing mutual relationships with other counties and the national government. A greater role of the first governors will be to cast a vision and lay a foundation of long term prosperity  of their counties. It will be a pity if a governor consumed by political survival and greed will fail to put a firm foundation. 

Thus the governor is the person with whom the back stops in terms of how well a county government is run and is to be downwardly accountable to the citizens in the county. S/he is also to be accountable to the national government for the use of resources transferred to the county and for any national government functions delegated to the county.

Our Rights and Responsibilities 
It is a fact that the governor will be the person who will carry the heaviest burden of service delivery. Some thoughts come to mind in relation to the governor and the functions of that office:-
  • Those of us with the requisite skills and capacity should seek to lead their counties as governors;
  • Professionals should seek appointments to the County Executive Committees as this will be the persons heading the departments (ministries) of the county government;
  • We have a right to receive services equitably at all parts of a county and a responsibility to play our role in abiding with the county laws and policies;
  • We have a role to hold the governor accountable for her/his actions for we are the beneficiaries or victims of any such actions;
  • The governor has a responsibility to foster unity in diversity in the county and a right to receive our full support in such efforts
Without disregard for any other elective office, it would be proper to make a deeper consideration on which person to elect as governor. It would also be in order to give such a person a majority in the County Assembly so as to ensure that much effort is on service delivery and not on fighting political battles in the County Assembly.

Do you know who is vying for governor in your county? 

In the next post we look at what will the County Governments are expected to do.

In Service to God and Our Country 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who is the County Assembly Member?

Each of us belongs to a county and much more a ward where the public services to be provided by both the national and county governments affect our everyday life. This is regardless of whether we participate in the governance or not. No one is to be excluded but there is all the more benefit to participate while seeking to ensure that services are economical, efficient and effectively provided to all without fear or favour.

The County Assembly Member (CAM) who will be the most local representative of the people will play an immense role in ensuring that county governments are kept accountable and supported. Each of the 47 Counties will have a parliament, referred to as County Assembly (CA) responsible for making laws, approving budgets and plans of the county, and providing oversight in the running of the county governments. The CA shall be chaired by the speaker and shall be elected for a five year term.

So who constitutes a CAM? Article 177 of the Constitution provides for four categories:
(i) a person elected in each ward by the majority of the registered voters (this can be an independent candidate or a member of a political party)
(ii) a person nominated through a political party to ensure that the composition of the CA is such that no one gender is more than 2/3rds of the members
(iii) a person nominated through a political party to represent marginalized groups, persons with disability and the youth. The County Government Bill 2012 sets the total number of this nominations at 6 persons.
(iv) The speaker, who shall be an ex-officio member elected by the CAMs from among persons who are not CAMs

The responsibility placed on the CAMs is to, (a) maintain close contact with the electorate and consult them on issues before or under discussion in the county assembly; (b) present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the county assembly; (c) attend sessions of the county assembly and its committees; (d) provide a linkage between the county assembly and the electorate on public service delivery; and e) extend professional knowledge, experience or specialised knowledge to any issue for discussion in the county assembly. A member of the county assembly shall not be directly or indirectly involved in the, (a) executive functions of the county government and its administration; or (b) delivery of services as if the member were an officer or employee of the county government. (See County Government Bill 2012)

Our Rights, Our Responsibilities
In this regard we all have rights and responsibilities, :-
(a) A right to seek the position of a CAM through any of the four ways and a responsibility to execute the duties given with a sense of devotion, justice and integrity.
(b) A right to support candidates seeking the position of CAMs whose principles, policies and values we agree with, and a responsibility to do so while shunning divisive, exclusionist, and bad blood politics;
(c) A right to be heard when giving our opinions to our respective CAM and a responsibility to ensure that such proposals seek to advance the common good of all persons in our ward;
(d) A right to demand for efficient services and a responsibility to honour our end through respecting the rule of law;
(e) A right to hold our CAM accountable of their actions in serving us and a responsibility to model the very actions we demand of others.

If the CA is to do its proper work properly, then both the CAM and the citizens they represent need to play their respective roles. Let those who can lead present themselves, let us weigh their offers and support them based on what they are willing to do and what we are willing to live with. Let us take the responsibility to build our nation seriously. Only we can build our country and since no house is built from the roof let us start with our wards.

In the next post we look at the Governor.

In Service to God and My Country

Source: The Constitution of Kenya 2010 and County Government Bill 2012 (This is in parliament and thus some things may change)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Who shall we be electing?

As we get ready for elections, do we know how many elective positions we will vote for and what are the roles of each office? And what our responsibilities and rights are under the new system? This are the questions the next few posts will look at. To start with there are only two levels of government established in the constitution: The National and The County (This are 47 geographical units as established in schedule 1).

The two levels are distinct but not independent of each other. They are distinct because they have their structures of operation and can make laws within their areas, but they are not independent as of each other as they have to share resources and are guided by the same national constitution. The independence is actually a factor of functions and resources.

At the National level there shall be elected:-
(a) The President together with the deputy president (this shall be the running mate during elections);
(b) The Senator to represent each county in the Senate;
(c) The Member of Parliament to represent each constituency in the National Assembly;
(d) The woman county representative to the National Assembly

At the County Level there shall be elected:-
(a) The Governor together with the deputy governor as the running mate in the elections;
(b) The County Assembly Representative from each ward in the county

This persons shall form the Executive and Legislative arms of the respective units of government.

In the next post we look at the County Assembly Representative, the role assigned to them and what should be our right and responsibility in working with them.

In Service to God and My Country

Source: Republic of Kenya, 2010. Constitution of Kenya as promulgated on 27 August 2010. Available at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Greed as governance problem

Talking to church leaders yesterday, the chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), Mr. Micah Cheserem observed that greed is a root cause of the governance problems in Kenya. Greed is where people want to get more than they deserve at the expense of others and this including using all means possible. It is self focusing and only seeks to gratify the ME, MYSELF and I. What got me thinking is whether greed is just personal or can it be communal? Where a group of people bound by certain shared characteristics want everything just for themselves? In the case of Kenya can this groups be ethnic, religious, age sets etc?

So Mr. Cheserem challenged the church leaders with a question,'why haven't you helped us get rid of the greed that is threatening to destroy our country?' Was he talking on general observations or is it because of the kind of proposals he has received on how to design the formula of sharing resources between county governments? or was it from his experience at the helm of the central bank where he formerly worked as the governor? Only he can answer this queries. However, he has brought to the policy table a matter of matters:greed. 

Am I greedy? What about you? so if we are both not, then who was he referring to? Maybe the politicians (especially MPs) because they always increase their pay and are not even willing to pay tax. Maybe the rich businessmen who pay their workers peanuts as they make huge profits. Oh yes, it maybe the very people he was addressing, the pastors who are always urging us to give more and more so as to be blessed. I mean, it must be everyone else but me and you.

So before we identify that person out there who is greedy, lets turn do a personal search. Do we pay all our taxes? Do we cheat in exams or interviews? do we undercut our competitors and fellow employees so that we get that promotion? Do we underdeclare our current assets so as to benefit from special programmes meant for the poor? What about ouur expenditures on a work trip - are they all true and necessary? ooh and safaricom has given us unlimited internet access, but is downloading 35GB worth of data still within proper limits? Can we confidently say that all we have was genuinely gained?

The list can be endless of such questions. One thing stands out i.e. our society's character is the sum of our individual character. Its our little pieces of good or bad that makes the country great or awful. So lets not seek the greedy out there, lets purpose to tame our own. 

In Service to God and My Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Making the Kenya we want...

It is a fact that we (Kenyans and friends of Kenya) want our beloved country to succeeded. The motivation and desire for such success may be driven by different factors and towards different ends and that may explain the differing opinions we have with each other. But one thing is for sure, we all want a working system. We want equiped schools and hospitals, gainful employment for all people, food on the table and equal opportunities for every Kenyan regardless of where they come from. We do not just want big and new systems, we want systems that deliver what we expect and that we can reliably plan with. So what must we do?

We have a new constitution whose letter and spirit promnise a new republic where all can reach their highest potential, where all are equal before the law and where nothing but merit can get you going up. So why all the conflict in agreeing how to proceed? why the delays in enacting laws? Why the plans to moderate or even change the provisions of the constitution?

Could it be that our real challenge is the one inside? A desire that justice is only justice when its done to me. That good leadership is only possible when one of our own (ethnic or other grouping) is given the position. That resources are equitably shared when I and my people get the 'lions' share. That county governments have been created for 'our' people and others should go to their counties. What is our attitude to national and local development. Could it be that we are called upon to change our own attitudes before we make demands on the country. 

Lets consider our position on this soft matters for I am convinced that will affect greatly how we move forward.

In Service to God and our Country.

Some thoughts on future of Universities and Scholarship

It was my pleasure to give input on this topic at the just concluded DAAD Young Scholars in Africa Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya. As one...