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How the new system of government works

COMMENTARY
By | August 29th 2010

By Stephen Makabila

The promulgation of the new Constitution by President Kibaki on Friday has finally ushered in two levels of Government for improved access to public services and development.

It puts to end the culture of imbalanced allocation of State resources and the fight for State power by individuals or communities ‘to eat’ the national cake.

"The era of some regions crying foul over under-development will be no more because each region will now prioritise what is good for its people on development matters," says Prof Sammy Kubasu of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.

The governments at the national and county levels will be distinct and inter-dependent, conducting their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and co-operation.

Among key objectives of a devolved system of government is to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State, and in making decisions affecting them.

County governments will be in charge of agricultural activities, health facilities, transport, animal control and welfare, trade development and implementation of specific national government policies on natural resources and environment conservation, among others.

A total of 47 county governments will be created once the new Constitution is fully effected, most likely within a year as decreed by the Cabinet.

Each county is expected to have a county assembly, county speaker who is an ex-officio member of the assembly, and a county executive committee.

County governors and deputy county governors are to be directly elected by registered voters within the counties.

The legislative authority of a county is vested in and exercised by the county assembly, which will make necessary laws for effective performance.

A county assembly, for example, may receive and approve plans and policies for the management and exploitation of the county’s resources and development as well as management of its infrastructure and institutions.

They would consist of elected members at ward levels for a five-year term.

Each county assembly will have a speaker elected by the county assembly from among persons who are not members of the assembly.

On the other hand, the executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by a county executive committee consisting of a governor, deputy governor and members appointed by the county governor.

County executive committees will shoulder the responsibility of implementing county legislation, manage and co-ordinate functions of the county administration and perform any other functions conferred on it by the Constitution.

On the other hand, the country’s parliament is to consist of the National Assembly and the Senate.

The new Constitution stipulates a total of 35 roles of the national government, key among them being foreign affairs, national economic policy, education, transport and communication, housing, agriculture, energy sector, tourism and national defence.

Members of the national assembly will represent constituencies, which are expected to be increased from 210 to 290, and other special interest groups.

The special interest groups include 47 women, each elected by a county and 12 members nominated by parliamentary political parties, bringing the total number to 349 members.

The role of the National Assembly will be enacting legislations, determining allocation of national revenue between the levels of government, appropriating funds for expenditure by the national government and other state organs and exercising an oversight role over national revenue and its expenditure.

Other roles of the National Assembly will be to review conduct in the office of the President and Deputy President, approve declaration of war and extension of state of emergencies, among others.

The Senate, on the other hand, will represent counties and serve to protect the interests of the counties and their governments.

It will consider, debate and approve parliamentary Bills concerning counties and determine the allocation of national revenue among counties.

It will also be participating in the oversight of State officers by considering and determining any resolution to remove the President or Deputy President from office.

It will consist of 47 members each elected from a county, 16 members nominated by political parties according to proportion of members of the senate, two members representing the youth and two others representing persons with disabilities.

The executive or the Cabinet will comprise the President, the Deputy President, the Attorney General and the rest of the Cabinet.

Unlike currently when a Vice-President is appointed by a sitting President, the Deputy President will be a running mate of the President in an election.

The Deputy President will assume role of President if office falls vacant.

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