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Deputy Governor has no clearly defined role in the county

By - Mohamed Guleid | October 12th 2013
Mohamed Guleid is the Isiolo County Deputy Governor.

By Mohamed Guleid

Most of the deputy governors are either a frustrated lot or are enjoying a passive and relaxed working environment.

The office of the Deputy Governor is a creation of the Constitution. Section 180 of the Supreme Law states that a governor must have a running mate to get elected. Once a governor has been elected his deputy becomes automatically elected.   Chapter 11 of the Constitution describes the composition of the county government and the functions of all the offices including that of the deputy governor.

But the only functions ascribed to the deputy governor are set out in section 179 (3 & 4); he is the deputy Chief Executive Officer of the county and deputises the governor in his absence.

The only other place the Constitution refers to the Deputy Governor is mentioned in section 181, involving the removal of the governor. Here the deputy governor gets the honour of being the apparent heir.

But the Constitution does not mention the deputy governor’s removal process. In essence it is the safest seat to be in.  The county assembly which can impeach the governor has no power over the deputy governor. 

Saddest part

However, the saddest part is that this important office exists but is not to be heard. Many governors see the deputy as a potential opponent so the best they can make of it is to stop any attempt by his deputy to shine.

Through the constitutionally granted powers, the governor can frustrate his deputy by denying him the benefits of the office. The other employees are directly answerable to the governor but not the deputy, therefore in the event of power show they are likely to succumb to the governor.

 Only in few counties is there a power sharing arrangement similar to that of the President and his deputy. In areas where there has been political alliance of different political parties, the coalition is able to withstand only if a bargain between the two county bosses exists.

However, where both the governor and his deputy belong to the same political party, unless other balancing factors such ethnic loyalty plays a role, the deputy is likely to be disadvantaged in sharing out of county resources.

Might occur

Since the deputy governor is a politician, the likelihood of resentment might be high, leading to competition. Internal wrangles are likely to stall the work of the county because of the inability of the governor to remove his deputy.

 The victim here would be the citizens because the process of implementation of the Constitution and developing of the county structures might get stalled.

The solution therefore lies in changing the law. The first option can be to create clearly defined roles for the deputy governors independent of interference from the governor. This shall make this office useful and increase efficiency of the county government.

Second option is to make the position independently elective. The person running for this office should run independently and then he can sign a pact with the governor. This makes sense since the governor shall not side line his deputy upon winning. The third option is to abolish the office totally and allow the governor to appoint an assistant amongst his committee of executives.

Failure to change the law, we shall only have deputy governors who’s only responsibility would be to create a parallel centres of power within the counties. Ultimately service delivery of the county might be undermined. The full implementation of the Constitution shall also be seriously delayed.

The easiest option to resolve this issue is the amendment of the County Government’s Act to accommodate an active role for the deputy governors.

Such a function can include playing an oversight role on matters of finance and procurement to ensure the correct checks and balances within the executive of the county government.

The law is also not clear about the event in which the deputy governor resigns. The Constitution does not give the governor the powers to appoint another deputy. Is this a potential Constitutional crisis?


The writer is the Isiolo County Deputy Governor.

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