For devolution to have impact leaders must live in counties

Back in the 1960s, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta noticed that MPs, excluding ministers, spent most of their time in Nairobi, stepping in rural constituencies once in a while. The people were not receiving expected help from their leaders.

He had made the call to go back to the land in 1964 but politicians thought the advice was for the common man not them. So they stayed put in Nairobi. The order to go back to the land was important for Kenya. Leaders had to have grass-roots support as their passport to Parliament, and not just party support.

Now, with the coming of devolution, it sounds like criminal conspiracy to hear that people are dying of hunger. The burning question is: where is the County Government, starting with the Governor, his Deputy, the County Commissioner, the Senator, the MPs, the MCAs and all the officials working in county wards?

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A sizeable number of governors still live in Nairobi and only go to their counties on occasion. County officials ought to live in the counties they serve. They should be the ones feeding the media with updates of matters of interest to the county and Kenyans in general. Anything else is dereliction of duty.   

Otherwise, devolution will have little impact to wananchi. Counties know their weather patterns, so if there is any change at all in the pattern for a given period they should be the first to report its effect on food production. They should have a master plan of activity during such periods as severe drought or severe denudation with rain. 

When we hear of corruption in counties, some of us think of the absence of supervision by the senior-most members of the county governments. The Central Government should keep an eye on this particular development or phenomenon. No one is forced to work in counties. So, we should have zero tolerance on absenteeism even if it is for an hour in traffic in another county.

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Develop your county and stop blaming it for not having the amenities that other counties have. If leaders embraced this creed, every county would see real development.

From the figures we see in the media relating to corruption Kenya has so much money that no one Kenyan should die because of starvation unless it is self-inflicted. I am not an economist; but no one needs to be an economist on this issue except the people charged with planning and implementation and those are very few. The majority are consumers of their economic wisdom. Let them exercise diligence. Let us consume responsibly.

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For the media, it is to be noted that media is everywhere in Kenya and generally doing a commendable job. Let it act responsibly and confirm their information as closely as possible to the source, realising that inaccurate reporting is unhelpful and in many cases harmful.

I have no quarrel with Senators and MPs living in Nairobi if they are truly fully engaged in the job they applied for and got. There are so many issues that need legislation and this is not forthcoming. There are pending Bills. These are the people who ought to have initiated dialogue on how to stem political violence during and after elections. They need to do more than they have done so far. If anything, they should be the ones calling the shots in evolution of our electoral laws. That is their mandate. The executive should be kept busy obeying and enforcing the law instead of collecting views to change the laws. What do these elected leaders learn or collect from their constituents? Nothing at all! So, what is being collected by others who may or may not be elected representatives of the people? Will they claim their mandate has been usurped?

- The writer is a lawyer

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