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Senator, MP back Uhuru move on officers’ powers

By BENARD SANGA and JOSEPH MASHA

Mombasa, Kenya: Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji and Malindi MP Dan Kazungu have backed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to give county commissioners more powers, saying the move will assist in the fight against terrorism.

But a human righst group in Mombasa, Haki Africa, questioned the President’s intention and claimed that Uhuru is plotting to weaken devolved governments.

The group accused Uhuru of resorting to tactics his father, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, allegedly used  to destroy devolution after independence in 1963.

But Haji said there have been spirited efforts since by the political class to disparage the former Provincial Administration, something he said had demoralised them and led to rise in insecurity.

FIGHT INSECURITY

“The former provincial administration has been depicted as a monster Kenya does not need since the days of the Narc administration. This vilification has deflated the otherwise one of the best government structure that was key in the fight against insecurity,” said Haji, who himself is a former provincial commissioner.  

Kazungu broke ranks with his CORD counterparts who have opposed the decision to bestow more powers on the County Commissioners, saying the President acted within the law.

Addressing the Press in Malindi at the weekend, the MP said governors have specific duties assigned to them by the Constitution, which are different from those of  the national government.

“As an ODM legislator, I strongly oppose the leadership of CORD on this matter. Their criticism on the move to give county commissioners more powers to oversee the implementation of national government polices at the counties is unfounded,” said Kazungu.

He said those opposed to the existence of the national government at the county level should push for the review of the Constitution.

Addressing the Press in Mombasa over the weekend, Haji said High Court ruling of 2012 that revoked the appointment of the 47 county commissioners was defective.

In her ruling, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi declared the President had erred in the appointment of the commissioners as he had overlooked a number of Articles in the Constitution.

No authority

 “The President did not have the legal authority to make such appointments and his decision was against the spirit of the Constitution and the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which called for consultation and gender balance,” Justice Ngugi said in the ruling then.

Debate is raging over last week’s move by Uhuru to bestow more powers on the commissioners, with CORD terming it as an affront to devolution.

But Uhuru said the delegation of powers was aimed at boosting service delivery.

Yesterday, Haki Africa said the President’s move will weaken the offices of the governor and the county governments in general.

“This move by the President is a direct affront to devolution in the country and can be viewed as an attempt to weaken the offices of the governor. It must be remembered that Kenyans voted overwhelmingly for a devolved system of governance where they directly elect the persons to manage their local affairs,” said Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid.

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