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Reasons why devolution may not succeed in Kenya

By Letters | November 6th 2013 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya: There are five basic reasons, in my view, why devolution is not working as it should, and could actually fail in Kenya.

One. The ongoing standoff between the Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission has brought business to a standstill in the counties. Bills, such as the County Finance Bill, which gives the counties the mandate to collect revenue, have consequently not been enacted.

Two. There is no harmony of interest between the executive and legislative arms of the counties. There is a lot of suspicion and poor working relationships due to mistrust occasioned by the purported pay disparities between the two sides.

Three. Most county governors are know-it-alls. They start projects will little or no consultation with the MCAs. As novelist Chinua Achebe noted, most governors do not live in their counties.

Four. Members of most county assemblies belong to one party. Consequently, majority of the assemblies are run by a party that has the majority of members from one political party. This is what I call the “Ayes Assemblies”; everything that comes from the executive is passed.

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Five. Most governors and MCAs didn’t have a manifesto or a blueprint of their aspirations; their aim was first to get power then other things would follow.

From the foregoing, it would be very difficult to say devolution is working.

{Macharia Muthee, via email}

Kiambu County’s Draft Finance Bill, 2013 has raised a lot of views,  with most people purporting that the county government has imposed new unnecessary charges in an effort to raise funds.

But after going through the Bill, I have concluded that the public is being misled on the Third Schedule of the Bill that they will be paying to bury their dead or to slaughter domestic animals. It is sad that the media are misleading the public with regard to the Bill.

Governor William Kabogo has come out to defend himself and clarified that the Bill does not propose to charge people to bury the dead on their land.

Kenyans have been left wondering how a government, in its quest to raise more funds, can charge people for slaughtering chickens or rabbits in their homes. The said charges are for slaughterhouses.

Instead of debating an issue that has been brought about by misinterpretation of the draft, it is high time we committed ourselves to making devolution work and co-operate with the county governments as they lay down laws to enable them exist.

It should be noted that these charges have not just been introduced. They were in place even during the defunct city and town councils.

{Kenneth Irungu, Maseno University}


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