Kisumu, Kenya: The Senate wants full transfer of functions and resources to the counties and more co-operation between the national and county governments.
Speaker Ekwe Ethuro, while addressing the second annual Devolution Conference at Kisumu's Tom Mboya Labour College, noted that for devolution to be realised all devolved functions as enshrined in the Constitution and money should be transferred to counties.
"All devolved functions have not been fully transferred to counties even after the Senate resolved so. As we speak, the wheel is threatening to come full cycle in the matter of Makueni County," Ethuro noted.
He said all stakeholders must work together to save devolution.
"We meet at a time devolution is at crossroads. Counties are in turmoil: County assembly speakers and governors are being impeached. Fistfights have been witnessed in some counties. Counties are still agitating for more resources and collecting less revenue than their discredited local authorities. Equalisation Fund is yet to be operationalised," he said.
He added: "Doctors and nurses are going on strikes because they want health to be made a national function. A total of 15 counties bear the national burden of high mortality rate. Ninety eight per cent of the most marginalised regions are found in Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Turkana, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Lamu and Taita Taveta."
Ethuro said teachers in marginalised counties being recalled by their unions on account of insecurity and court cases are threats to devolution.
The speaker decried supremacy wars between the National Assembly and Senate.
"We have done our best under very difficult circumstances and a hostile environment where every function of our House has been contested. Be it legislative, deliberative or oversight. Some skeptics have even entertained weird thoughts by stretching their imagination to loudly ask whether we ought to exist as though they are abrogating to themselves sovereign power of the people. I wish to submit that no State organ is superior to the other," Ethuro said.
He added: "I am embarrassed to note that apart from the annual County Allocation of Revenue Amendment Bill, not a single bill has come to the Senate from the National Executive and the county governments through Council of Governors (CoG) as the proposers and executors of public policy. We have, therefore, been left to our own devices to generate legislation based on our legal undertaking of the Constitution without the benefits of the practitioners."
The speaker indicated that Senate will not be cowed by those keen on killing devolution. He condemned corruption and urged county governments to protect public funds.
"Corruption and impunity are not devolved functions. And neither are they transitional or consequential clauses of the Constitution. Corruption has no place in Kenya. We must together affirm the clarion call of zero tolerance to corruption to secure and develop our nation," Ethuro said.
However, the speaker was optimistic that devolution will thrive regardless of the challenges.