The new constitution was meant to cure the exclusion of citizens from participating in the governance of this country; it was also meant to address marginalization of regions from economic prosperity through unequal development. The core solution to that was devolution, found in chapter 11 of the constitution but also transcends the entire constitution.
The constitution is a living document because of the institutions that we have created. The main thrust is leadership for development and service delivery at all levels. It is no longer about the individual in office but about the delivery of services. The senate functions to protect county interests. The most important thing is to use these new institutions.
This devolved system is new for all of us, so mistakes are bound to be made. Devolution is about 2 levels of government. Each level has its functions assigned by the constitution. The functions of the national government are in part 1 and the functions of the county government are in part 2 of the 4th schedule. The county governments are not reformed local authorities, but governments at devolved level.
How do we make this transition? The transition is at different levels: electoral and institutional. The national assembly together with the senate is what is now the parliament. The other transition is from local authorities to the county governments. We also require attitude and behavior transitions.
There are a number of things we need to watch out for. All the counties must have a development plan which is integrated i.e. takes care of all areas of service delivery but also fits into the national plan, for purposes of budgeting. Currently counties are doing their plans. Few counties have preceded budgeting with planning to ensure prudent use of the resources.
Right now the Governor of a county in Nyanza is staying in Imperial hotel where he is paying 12,000 a night. Yet his home in Nyando is just 15 kms away. Before he became governor he was a successful business man with several vehicles. What happened to self sacrifice? Why can’t he stay in his home and drive to work? The use of resources must conform to the requirement of the law. In Bungoma , 57 M has been set aside as the governor’s entertainment allowance and yet this county is reeling under insecurity. It only takes a citizen to move to court to challenge this allocation. The county speakers regalia will cost 1M. The trappings of power is not what Kenyans wanted. Our duty is to ensure that governance conforms to the principles of development and service delivery.What mechanisms are we putting in place to ensure that the resources we are devolving reach the intended levels?
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION is not about tokenism and symbolism. It is not about the elite coming up with the budget and presenting it to the people for rubber stamping. The priorities must come from the people. This is the only way they can hold the government accountable. Right now it is top down. How do we ensure that citizens genuinely participate? How do we organize ourselves to give voice to the people? We need various mechanisms to ensure participation at grassroot level. I am indebted to Patrick Onyango for his presentation to the Tuvuke Initiative in Naivasha on 27th June, 2013.