DEVOLUTION AT STAKE

Counties stare at bleak future

This is not an exaggeration. Nairobi has already tasted a bitter dose of the prescription by the national government.

In Summary
  • We are about to squander another golden opportunity to make Kenya a better place to live in.
  • Without political goodwill, correction of society’s ills is a tall order.

Counties were created in the 2010 Constitution to address inequality, economic imbalances, marginalisation and historical injustices. Ten years later, the hope of a prosperous united nation is a far-off dream; Kenya remains ethnically fragile.

Seven years after the creation of the devolved units, counties boast of no robust infrastructure and social amenities because of financial constraints and lack of expertise to undertake such tasks. Qualified personnel and skilled artisans are to date attracted by fat salaries in major towns built by their parents and grandparents in the colonial era.

The proposed selective reduction of resources allocated to the devolved units in the 10th anniversary of the Constitution is a glaring example of a ploy to perpetuate marginalisation and eventually kill the county governments the way regional governments were killed in the 196os, ostensibly to foster national unity.

This is not an exaggeration. Nairobi has already tasted the bitter dose of the prescription by the national government. The county government has already surrendered some of its key functions to the national government while some are dysfunctional due to resource waste, corruption in high places and political manoeuvres.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation proposal is a catalyst for ethnic division not seen in years. Some counties are set to receive less revenue than others. The tone of the Senate debate on revenue division relegates leaders to village elders in a national institution.

Nothing could have been more appropriate and complimentary to the constitutional objectives than the bridging of the political and economic divide proposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga. Unity in diversity and one indivisible nation has been the clarion call of the two leaders.

However, the gains of the March 9, 2018, handshake and hope of a better country contained in the Building Bridges report could be reversed by the ongoing premature presidential succession campaigns and acrimonious debate on the division of revenue.

The handshake by the political rivals calmed the ever-rising political temperatures and rekindled hopes of national unity in a polarised society. The leaders undertook to address contentious and unworkable sections in the supreme law by forming a team of 14 eminent persons to collate views from Kenyans on the document whose delivery in 2010 was engulfed in controversy.

However, the gains of the March 9, 2018, handshake and hope of a better country contained in the Building Bridges report could be reversed by the ongoing premature presidential succession campaigns and acrimonious debate on the division of revenue.

We are about to squander another golden opportunity to make Kenya a better place to live in. The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement that created the current Constitution was a perfect opportunity for reflection and re-examination of national ethos.

One of the Agenda 4 items in the 2008 Accord signed by then President Kibaki and Raila sought a solution on unity in diversity. The Accord signatories selected a team of constitutional experts to oversee the harmonising of drafts whose authors mutilated the progressive Bomas Draft.

The doctored draft constitution did not see the light of day in the divisive referendum campaigns that spilt into one of the bloodiest general elections in which more than 1,200 lives were lost¸ property of unknown value destroyed and more than 500,000 uprooted from their homes.

The Independence constitution was yet another progressive document that did not survive the lust of political leaders. It was mutilated beyond recognition, hence, the clamour for reforms that was vehemently resisted by President Moi.

Without political goodwill, correction of society’s ills is a tall order. Why? The nurses and midwives of colonial relics are no lesser persons than the leaders who have abdicated their role as guardians of the crawling counties.

Deputy President William Ruto led opposition to the draft constitution in 2010 yet the same leader is seemingly uncomfortable with amending the supreme law today. Is the future of the country brighter with this presidential hopeful?

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