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Governors spending much time on campaign trails

By Emongor Ekisa | April 19th 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta decried the slow pace of devolution in his State of the Nation address.

Devolution, which was meant to create broadly shared prosperity across the country and form a key part of the development effort, has been foiled by both the presidency and county governments.

Between 2014 and 2017 financial year, Sh1 trillion was transferred to the counties. That is a lot of money in a country facing serious fiscal challenges.

Without effective governance, billions of shillings will continue to be squandered.

The exact losses from both the Executive and county management are not easy to tally, but they fall under staggering estimates of the cost of corruption and fruitless expenditure.

What challenges does devolution face and which specific and concrete proposals could be considered to surmount them?

In the management or mismanagement of devolution, the buck stops with both the President and governors.

The central government is to blame for tepid efforts towards the success of devolution.

The delay in the disbursement of devolved funds and the hoarding of devolved functions by the national government form part of the challenges facing county governments.

The country government management is a cauldron of intrigue, nepotism and corruption, which combined, lead to administrative paralysis.

Most governors and even the President spend more time on political survival than on current problems facing the counties and the nation.

The scenario creates fertile ground for officials at both tiers of government to participate in corruption and mismanagement.

Counties have proven that they are unable to attract relevant skills, which has resulted in a reliance on external consultants.

Consultancy fees can deplete county budgets thus affecting services delivery and ability to pay salaries.

The financial environment in the counties is a highly problematic one, and is worsened by the fact that it is open to abuse and fraudulent activity.

There are indeed poor levels of appropriate knowledge and skills in the counties. With under skilled but politically correct candidates being hired what do you expect?

As a consequence of lack of skills and knowledge, many counties depend on consultancies for a range of things, including information communication technology, financial control and project management.

Even the conceptual work in formulating and writing CIDPS, a five-year plan on development priorities, is often out sourced.


In executing county development programmes, all stakeholders including contractors, suppliers and local residents should be involved in their formulation.

Factionalism is another challenge that counties are facing. Factional battles are adversely affecting service delivery.

County officials can be vulnerable to internal party conflict. Often this stimulates intra-political party tensions in the county to the detriment of service delivery.

National government meddling is also to blame. In Kenya divisions between the central and county government as delineated by legislation are not being respected.

The political administrative interface is mired in overlaps and a complete separation of the two is impossible. More often than not, the national government supplements its control of most counties.

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