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REVENUE SHARING

Senators driven by greed, not Ubuntu

They want more money in areas they want to run for governor.

In Summary
  • Do those running for the kill not care about the marginalisation of other counties?
  • Are the senators who want more money for their densely populated counties immunised against the Ubuntu ideology?

Public money should not be chasing people. Money should, in fact, be chasing poverty out of counties. This is the essence of devolution.

There is no outbreak of selfishness or patriotism among effusive senators. The watchdogs of devolution are merely flexing raw nerves of self-interest to beguile hapless voters. We, the people, won’t be fooled by a class that rides, terminally, on self-interest. Fair weather senators have found a straw to grasp as the 2022 general election beckons.

Behind the Senate confusion, seven times demonstrated before yesterday, lurks fear of the unknown. Senators do not know the dominant sentiments that would influence their rejection or re-election two years from now.

Senators, like other hawks of opportunity, know vultures and hyenas would starve if they depended entirely on their own skills to kill. Sometimes they have to scavenge. Senators are gambling with the revenue sharing ruckus to soar their stocks.

 

There is no Ubuntu ideology among senators, even if some think of themselves as their brothers’ keepers. One of the senators dangling the marginalisation trump card sent me a snippet of the Ubuntu anecdote to sanitise their blurred reasoning.

Ubuntu is a nice folk story of sharing. Ubuntu means, ‘I am because we are.’ This is a classic motif from the fading African communality of sharing and caring. Is Ubuntu then the inspiration of senators who don’t want some counties to lose money? 

Twenty-seven senators rejected the Senate Finance committee adulteration of the Commission on Revenue Allocation formula. Twenty-two others sped towards the prey, singing, ‘one man, one shilling, one vote!’

Do those running for the kill not care about the marginalisation of other counties? Are the senators who want more money for their densely peopled counties immunised against the Ubuntu ideology?

There is a historical reason, for example, why Kiambu is more populated than Mandera or Wajir. These are consequences of discriminative policies of the immediate post-Independence years. People settled in Kiambu, while eschewing ‘marginal’ areas like Wajir, and other Northern Frontier Districts. Pioneer steak-holders used public funds to grow the economy of the so-called high potential zones.

Dissenting senators, to be sure, are not entirely altruistic. There is opportunism behind their desire to spread happiness the Ubuntu way. They want more money in areas they want to run for governor.

Public money should not be chasing people. Money should, in fact, be chasing poverty out of counties. This is the essence of devolution. This is the ideal the architects of devolution like Raila Odinga intended. This is the ideal the former prime minister still espouses:  No county should lose money. No county should claim more than its fair share.

Equity is the ideal Article 200 of the 2010 Constitution demands.  “... the public finance system shall promote an equitable society, and in particular, expenditure shall promote the equitable development of the country, including by making special provision for marginalised groups and areas.”

Subsequent articles specify variables of revenue sharing. They include the need to ensure county governments can perform their functions; development and other needs of counties; economic disparities within and among counties; affirmative action for marginalised counties and groups, and the need for optimisation of county economic opportunities.

 

The Constitution does not support revenue gains or losses of counties. Neither does it recognise unique fears or hopes of senators. Yet, these are the considerations that fuel the fears of senators. Believing they hold the knife and the pumpkin, senators are exploiting the leverage to grow their clout among voters.

No county should claim more than its fair share of public money. No county should lose money on account of being sparsely populated. And no county should claim more than the rest because many people live there. To perpetuate this discriminative logic is to sustain historical injustices that continue to tear apart this desegregated polity.

There is a historical reason, for example, why Kiambu is more populated than Mandera or Wajir. These are consequences of discriminative policies of the immediate post-Independence years. People settled in Kiambu, while eschewing ‘marginal’ areas like Wajir, and other Northern Frontier Districts. Pioneer steak-holders used public funds to grow the economy of the so-called high potential zones.

The Senate stalemate on division of revenue is a rare and accidental nexus of self-interest and public interest. Most of the Senators are hiding their selfishness under the cloak of patriotism. Voters should call them out for what they are: selfish.

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