Yes, governors deserve respect but must deliver

Chief Executive Officer, Council of Governors Mary Mwiti addresses the 47 Governors during the Governors and Deputy Governors induction in Mombasa County. [Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s latest message to the newly elected 47 governors will sound like good music to them. He has assured them that they will not be subjected to humiliation and arbitrary arrests by junior investigative officers.

In the past, overzealous Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers have been known to threaten governors with investigations and all manner of accusations regarding misuse of county resources. Indeed, several governors reportedly had to part with cash or other favours to some of the officers so as to escape financial scrutiny.

Addressing the governors and their deputies in Mombasa on Thursday, Gachagua said the national government and its agencies must accord them the respect they deserve. He emphasised that elected leaders have a mandate from the people, who are sovereign. It is unfortunate that the police, county commissioners and DCI officers have in the past been misused politically to settle scores or harass elected leaders.

This is clear violation of the Constitution and must be called out. And if it was the biggest hurdle against realising the dream of devolution, it must be thrown into the dustbin. County governments were put in place to bring resources and decision-making closer to the people as a way of ensuring equitable development across the country, including marginalised areas. 

If the friction between the DCI and the county bosses was detrimental to service delivery, the DP has a valid point, which must be a concern to all. During the campaigns, Kenya Kwanza promised freedom to all Kenyans and they must remain true to it. If indeed, the DCI was unnecessarily harassing governors and violating their rights and freedoms, this must stop. 

However, the DP must also be cognizant of the fact that some governors have been rightly accused of misappropriating public funds and only the law can deal with them. Rogue or thieving governors have turned their offices into corruption dens and only close supervision could deter blatant theft. Some have been known to hide ill-gotten money in their homes or private offices.

They also devised ways of siphoning county funds through their relatives, friends and cronies who are presented as suppliers. These ones, Mr Deputy President must be made to face the law. 

They must be investigated and stolen funds recovered. And to achieve this, anyone who falls afoul of the law should be treated equally. There should be no preferential treatment for so-called high profile criminals.  

Better still, the DCI should actively engage in intelligence gathering to stop thieving governors in their tracks. This, they cannot achieve if they are confined to their offices at Mazingira House, as the DP wants.