Senate should up its defence of devolution

The senators should carefully probe each and every attempt to impeach a governor. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The impeachment of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza even before settling in office does not sit well for Kenya's devolution dream. By winning the governorship on an Independent ticket and trouncing politically astute men, Mrs Mwangaza brought freshness into Meru County.

Her popularity on the campaign trail was a notch higher and residents, especially women, saw real hope in her leadership. They expected prudent use of county resources and an administration that would set their priorities right. They hoped that corruption, abuse of office and nepotism would be in the dust bins of history.

They saw in Mrs Mwangaza a compassionate county chief, ready to serve them. However, as soon as she was sworn in, the Members of County Assembly (MCAs) immediately started plotting her ouster. They cited her high handedness and iron-fist rule. Majority stayed away during her inaugural speech and vowed to bring her down.

And true to their words, the MCAs have drawn, debated, passed and handed over a motion of impeachment to the Senate in less than 150 days. The events in Meru are unfortunate. However, it is for the Senate or the courts to decide what next.

That said, Kenyans have immensely benefited from devolution. The system brought power and resources closer to the grassroots. Hitherto marginalised regions have seen health facilities built, roads constructed, water pans dug, schools built and government services improved. Indeed, majority of Kenyans want devolution to succeed even more. And they want the new governors to deliver on their campaign promises.

But constant wrangles between the county chiefs and MCAs could derail the devolution dream. While MCAs are supposed to check the governors and set priority projects, some have seen an opportunity to drive their own selfish agenda. They want to enrich themselves by blackmailing governors to allocate resources towards selfish gain.

The governors who stand firm against such mischief could be targets of impeachment. MCAs could also be used to fight governors politically by outside forces. This is where the Senate must come in strongly and defend devolution. The senators should carefully probe each and every attempt to impeach a governor. This is not to say that governors are entirely innocent. We have seen many of them charged with corruption and abuse of office.

A decade since devolution was introduced, some counties have not had meaningful transformation despite the billions of shillings spent. The devolution dream must not be killed by self-seeking leaders. Indeed, some governors and leaders have created dens of graft in their offices. This must stop now so that the 47 counties can develop.

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