Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts on Appointment of County Commissioners

On Friday, May 11, President Kibaki appointed 47 County Commissioners. This he did citing section 17 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which says' Within 5 years after the effective date (i.e. 27th August 2010), the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this constitution'.The County Commissioner and The County Governor are two separate entitities. The former is appointed by the National Government and thus will be accountable to it and the later is elected by the voters in the county and is expected to be downwardly accountable to the people. Do we need both? or can the governor do the work of both with support from the National Government? If the central government is busy thinking of its presence at the local level and is putting structures, who will put the structures of the County Governments? Is this not setting the grounds for a failed start of County Governments and hence dashing the hopes of Kenyans?

Its worth noting that according to article 6 and Schedule 4 of the constitution, both the National and County Governments have responsibilities at the local level. But the spirit of Article 174 (h) one gets the idea that the presence of the functions of the National Government at the local level are to be performed through the county governments. However, the interpretation of the President is that both the National and County Governments are to be present side by side at the local level. If this is the case then we may be headed for interesting times with an elected County Governor and appointed County Commissioner fighting for space. There should be no conflict but our experience has shown that there has been little support for full fledged local governance and this causes us to get concerned. Further the experience with District Commissioners and Local Authorities has been one of duplication, non-coordination and hence wastage of precious resources. Is this what we getting back too? Having two governments at the same level?

The appointments came at an interesting time and were also done in an interesting way. First there is clearly no observance of Article 27 on gender balance and also there are far too many persons from the same ethnic community. A better balance would have been most appreciated. Secondly, coming at a time when the County Government Bill has not been ascented too based on contentions about the security clause, it leaves many questions unanswered and may set the appointed officials on a colition path with the soon to be elected governors. One would have expected that we first, put in place the county governments structure and then we are in a better position to see how best to restructure provincial administration. And there is five years to do that. Why the hurry?

I hope this can be looked into afresh and I urge all leaders to avoid statements that will fuel up conflicts. At the end of the day, all Kenyans want is a system that works for their common good. 

In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mama Kazi:The County Woman MP

The most laudable provision in the constitution is that of a woman MP elected from each county. She shall be directly elected by the voters in the county and will sit in the National Assembly. So who does she represent, the county or the women? There is a thin line here. For one, she will be elected by both men and women and thus it will be absurd to aim at representing the women only. On the other hand, one notes that there has been under representation of women at the national arena. So she has the task of ensuring that both women and the county she is voted from are well represented. I have faith that the women elected will be of great value to moving our governance machine forward.

My concern is as to whether the women who have what it takes will offer themselves for election. There is a tendency in our good country for those who can to shy away sitting the maddiness of our politics. I urge our dear women who can do this not to shy away. Given that this is a fixed position, we will elect the woman we think is most qualified and its my hope that we will not be limited of choice. Women of conviction and who are forthright in their dealings. Women who value all and seek to serve without fear and favour. Women who will not be swayed by popular wind but will stand and defend all persons. Women who will bring a balance to the table of power. Women who are leaders and not just vocal activists. Women who are proud of themselves and not just seeking sympathy from voters. Women who have something to offer, not just eyeing what goodies they will get in the name of representing women (affirmative action). Women we will be proud to identify with as our County MPs. 

Looking around I have no doubt that each county has such women of substance who can ably represent their people. We need to support such with all we can. That is our responsibility. In return, I hope that every County Woman MP will give their best and serve the people fully. That is the least you can do for the people of our great nation. 

In Service to God and Our Country 
Abraham Rugo Muriu

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

County Governments and Local Authorities:same or different?

There are reasons to be concerned about how the County Governments (CGs) will be run as it will affect our daily life in many ways. While the popular talk is about how much money will come to our county, there are more pertinent questions of how well it will be used, where it will be used and who will benefit. Coming from a history of gross mismanagement of the Local Authorities (LAs) one is concerned as to whether the counties will be any different from the LAs? or are they the same thing only with a different name.

There are differences:-

1. LAs were established under an Act of Parliament subject to ammendments at anytime; CGs are established in the Constitution and can only be changed through a referendum.
2. LAs  were directly controlled by the National Government through the Ministry of Local Government; CGs  owe their allegiance only to the Constititution and their relationship with National Government is by mutual cooperation.
3. LAs  had their executive appointed by the National Government; CGs will have their own executive headed by a popularly elected governor.
4. The financing of LAs was provided for through an Act of parliament; CGs financing is entrenched in the constitution.
5. Whereas there were 175 LAs, only 47 CGs have been established to ensure they are not unviable as has been the case with a number of LAs.
6. Whereas the sharing of finances for LAs was informed by recommendations of an advisory committee; CGs finance sharing is informed by recommendations of Commission for Revenue Allocation which should be impartial

Some similarities include:-
1. Just like LAs, CGs have the mandate to provide local public services.
2. Where there is failure to deliver then the National Government can recall a CG.
3. CGs will be funded by local taxes as well as transfers from the National Government, this has been the case with LAs only that the amount was smaller.

This are just some points but what is most important is the collective will of the people to ensure that we are involved in how our counties are run. As shared elsewhere in this post, it will be a pity if we sit back and let the politicians and a few elite capture the system and do as they wish. Then only then can we ensure that CGs don't sink to what became of LAs. Citizen participation is not just a right; its our core duty.

Amkeni ndugu zangu.

In Service to God and My 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...