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Devolution: A lot to celebrate, a lot to fear

OPINION
By The Standard | March 7th 2017
PHOTO:COURTESY

County governors meet in Naivasha this week for their annual get-together to review their achievements as has been the tradition since the advent of devolution in 2013.

Initially, devolution got off to a shaky start because of the haphazard transfer of personnel, responsibilities and assets from the Central Government.

Yet despite the hiccups, the Transitional Authority rose to the challenge and midwifed a revolutionary system of governance that essentially has taken government close to the people, literally.

That is exactly what the drafters of the 2010 Constitution had envisaged. Devolution has manifested itself such that governors, senators, MCAs are part of our every day life now. Because of devolution, citizens understand self-governance.

Not least after the transfer of at least Sh1 trillion, for projects like roads, school, provision of bursaries, jobs among others. What's more, in each of the 47 counties, residents have been empowered to determine their own priorities and work on them as they please.

There have been downsides though. As a consequence of financial impropriety, devolution has created a handful of overnight millionaires (by some estimates, billionaires). The Auditor General and the Controller of Budget have each decried the level of wastage, corruption and outright theft in the counties.

This calls for stricter financial control and accountability. That over 20,000 aspirants with contest Members of County Assemblies seats in the nearly 2,000 wards is telling. Probably having seen how quickly the fortunes of the incumbents have changed considerably. Sadly, being an MCA has been portrayed as the quickest route to instant riches.

Through blackmail, many have connived, successfully, to thwart the development agenda in counties by filing countless motions of impeachment against the governors. May be for lack of a clear job description.

Additionally, a bloated workforce, misplaced priorities and a lack of urgency is slowing down many counties. And so even as calls for more allocations from the National Treasury ring loud, wastage has to be stopped and accountability enforced for taxpayers to see value in their taxes... and MCAs reined in.

 

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