We'd be better off with less, not more, counties

Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama has drawn up a bill seeking to increase the number of counties from 47 to 52. So far, he has received the support of some his parliamentary colleagues.

While the intent might be noble, the necessity of this move raises questions. The argument that creating more counties will lead to better service delivery lacks merit. Our problem is not a paucity of county units, rather, it is the lack of commitment and mismanagement by those elected to serve.

Creating counties around ethnic group interests will only serve to entrench tribalism that we have pledged to move away from. Instead of playing into tribal politics, leaders should find ways of appeasing warring communities as a first step to national cohesion.

Hiding behind 'community' interests to demand creation of additional county units amounts to dishonesty.

From the outset, President William Ruto's administration said it inherited empty coffers. It is ridiculous that even as the government announces cuts in expenditure to save costs, some ministers are promising salary hikes while some MPs want to increase the number of counties. Such undertakings are capital-intensive and should be shelved.

These priorities show that mwananchi's interests are diametrically opposed to those of their leaders. There are more pressing issues that can improve citizens lives if legislated.

Indeed, it is unlikely that increasing the number of counties will improve service delivery. This is because much of the counties monies, according to the Auditor General reports, have been going into recurrent expenditure rather than development. Corruption has also been gobbling up a huge fraction of money that can go to development. Increasing the number of counties will only aggravate these problems.

What need is better management of county funds and oversight, which is the responsibility of the legislators, to ensure that county funds are spent well.

Further, we should think about reducing the number of counties so that we can cut on the workforce and put more money into development rather than in paying salaries and allowances.