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Governors take on senators over County Governments Bill, 2013

By - ALPHONCE SHIUNDU | September 30th 2013


KENYA: A fresh row on devolution is shaping up between governors and senators over a controversial bill, which seeks to give the senators legal clout to steer development in the counties.

The senators and governors appear to have ended their honeymoon on the push for a referendum that sought to get more money to the counties. It is now about protocol and determining who the boss in the county is.

The chairman of the Council of Governors, Mr Isaac Ruto, has sought a meeting with the senators to ensure that the County Governments (amendment) Bill, 2013 is never introduced on the floor of the Senate. He said that if the senators want to introduce the bill, they should be prepared to make “major” amendments.

“This is a scheme by some elements to destroy devolution. It appears that some of the senators are compromised to sabotage the implementation of devolution. We will not accept that,” said Ruto, who is also the governor of Bomet County.

The bill creates a County Development Board, which will be chaired by the senator and comprise of the county woman representative; the elected MPs in the constituencies within the county; the Speaker of the county assembly; the majority and minority leaders in the county assembly; the chairperson of the county public service board, the chairmen of the county assembly committees in charge of planning, finance, and budget. The representative of the national government in charge of planning will also sit in the board.

 The governor will sit as the secretary of the development board, while the deputy governor will just be one of the members. It is this seemingly clerical work that has the governors irked. “They (senators) want to create a board like the one that manages the Constituency Development Fund. They should know that this is not CDF. They cannot be sitting with us to tell us what to develop and what not to develop,” Ruto said.

According to the architect of the bill, Mr Stephen Sang’ (Nandi Senator), the board is a consultation forum.

“The boards shall also be responsible for the coordination and harmonisation of county development plans and projects. The boards are also empowered to consider and adopt the county integrated development plans and the county annual budgets,” explained Sang’.

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