"How the county government will be structured is a subject that will have to be addressed in a holistic manner. It is a controversial subject that the Committee of Experts that wrote the Constitution gave the Government five years to work out," says Muigai.
Suspicion that there are still elements in Government unhappy with the dispersion of Executive power to the grassroots informs the decision by ODM to uphold the Bill Kibaki rejected. A contest between ODM and the PNU is in the offing after chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities David Ngugi acceded to presidential instructions to vary the clauses that give powers to the county governor to chair county security meeting, in addition restructuring the Provincial Administration in tandem with devolution.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo told The Standard On Sunday "parochial interests" inform the row over the Bill by forces beholden to the old constitution. The indictment of his colleagues is based on his perceptions that some of them sleep on the job or are influenced to stay away from House business.
"It is not about the having the best minds. It is about the numbers in the House, and, often, it is also about parochial interests. It is neither first nor the last time (Parliament will suffer a quorum hitch)," the minister says.
Mutula was responding to questions as to how MPs passed a law the President found defective. The clauses the Executive wants amended were added on the floor of the House to the original Bill. The minister and AG are said to have dissuaded the President assenting to the Bill.
Doubts, however, persist that the contentious Bill had clauses that were in conflict with the Constitution. Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi says there is more to the Presidentâs rejection of the Bill than meets the eye because in the countdown to passing of the law in Parliament on February 23, he had been properly informed of its contents.
"We are going to discuss the Presidentâs memo as a party. Devolution is the cornerstone of the new Constitution. Without it, it will be impossible to devolve power to the people. We shall approach it as a party because it is what separate us from the other parties that have been frustrating the Constitution implementation because of their centralised authority mindsets," says Kingi, a member of the Cabinet sub-committee on implementation.
Kingiâs remarks follow a thread of resolutions of the ODM National Executive meeting on Monday to return the Bill Kibaki sent back to Parliament unchanged. He says his party will not support any amendment to the Bill Parliament enacted but the President declined to give assent to.
Ngugi proposes a deletion of the clause that gives the counter governor powers to chair national Security Council meetings and enact a sub-clause that establishes an inter-governmental forum chaired by the governor responsible for harmonisation of service rendered in the county.
Kingi says the move amounts to encroachment of the powers of the county by the presidency that would reduce the regional government to the role played by the Provincial Administration.
"The Provincial Administration has no basis in law. They want to use is to attack devolution. It was used to suppress the ordinary people. In the new Constitution, the power enjoyed by the governor is bereft of oppression," says the minister. It is intriguing that the President was not fully briefed before and during debate on the Bill. Ordinarily, before a Bill is taken to Parliament, the implementing ministry reviews it.
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