Travails of Devolution

The promulgation of the 2010 con- stitution ushered in a new epoch of devolution for Kenya. The devolved system of governance came into play fol- lowing the 67% YES vote on 4th August. The YES campaign was spearheaded by the then seating President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Current President of Kenya (then Finance minister) Uhuru Kenyatta was also part of the YES team. After the 2013 general election, the counties became operational with the national government ceding most of its functions from healthcare, early childhood education, maintenance of feeder roads and collection of local rev- enue to the 47 counties.

President Uhuru Kenyatta became the first president to preside over this devolved system of governance. Despite it being a difficult process to cradle; the success of devolution has been resound- ing and it cannot be discounted under the leadership of Jubilee. President Kenyatta has been its foremost defender and trail- blazer. Among the successes of devolution has been the opening up of once marginal- ized areas of the country.

Most counties especially in the arid and semi-arid lands have been able to open up to the outside counties. In counties like Isiolo and Man- dera, through the devolved systems, they have been able to create airports that have made it easier for the movement of goods and people. The local economy in most of these counties has improved. As a result, the Kenyan economy has grown though not by the leaps and bounds which had been expected. Obviously, this can be attributed to many of the governors who have not been transparent with the use of funds.

They have overseen a burgeoning wage budget that threatens to derail the development agenda of devolution. This is quite con- trary to the ethos of devolution which is premised on grassroots empowerment for local development. A cursory look at the Kenya Budget starting from the financial year 2009/2010 to financial year 2016/2017, will quickly show that the recurrent expenditure shot up from 1 trillion shillings in 2015/2016 financial year to over 1.5 trillion shillings in 2016/2017 financial year.

This increase can be pegged to an increase in the wage bill of the country because devolution doubled the national wage expenditure without generating any more significant income. Further to this, development expenditure stagnated at 500 billion shil- lings because majority of these funds were mismanaged and lost through corruption in many of the counties. As a result, counties have high expen- ditures which they cannot sustain from basic revenue collection. Subsequently, they often expect the government to foot these bills.

The counter-argument to this reality is that the national government continues to retain functions and funds that would completely emancipate the counties. Nonetheless, it is in this broad debate that proposals in the Pesa Mashi- nani and Okoa Kenya drives (back in 2015) sought to increase the allocation of monies by the county government from 20% to 45 % thus ensuring a more robust devolution process. In a commentary in the Standard
Newspaper concerning this proposal was of the opinion that, “…It must be remem- bered that the national government is not an illegitimate appendage to county governments. It is the unifying level of government that the Constitution has given huge responsibilities.

If Okoa were to carry the day, the proposed 45 per cent minimum funding would leave the national government unable to carry out
its mandates which the people of Kenya expect it to.” Taking cognizance of this, can we as a citizenry trust our counties with the management of more monies when they are misusing with what they have? It is in these light that come 8th August; the gubernatorial contests will be more cut- throat and close to the heart of the citizen- ry. The four years of devolution has been an eye opener to many Kenyans. Choos- ing the right leadership to manage ones county is just as important (if not more) than voting for the president.

Kiambu: The Place of Drizzles The residents of Kiambu should brace themselves for a Kabogo resurgence re- plete with more thrust and gusto. The incumbent governor running on an in- dependent ticket (after being defeated by Waititu) will not cede his gubernatorial seat that easily. It will be another grueling fight for the governor position. However, the rubble-rouser and streetwise politi- cian, Waititu aka Babayao, unvarnished approach to Kimabu politics has won him supporters much to the dismay of Kabogo.

Waititu will easily dispense with Kabogo’s gubernatorial aspirations come 8th August owing to the vehement dislike they have for Kabogo.
Minji Minji Euphoria Kirinyaga is going to upset the apple- cart by giving Kenya her first woman gov- ernor. The county has been the arena for one of the fiercest contestants’ between two irrepressible and formidable women aspirants for the gubernatorial seat. On the one hand is Ann Waiguru and on the other is Martha Karua. The former Devolution CS, Ann Waig- uru, has come to be affectionately known as minji minji. This is to refer to her youth and innovative approach to development in Kirinyaga over Karau’s.

This will be an- other grueling race for the gubernatorial position that will invariably go to the wire. However, word on the ground and accord- ing to NC forecasts, Waiguru has the edge over Karua in this race.
Rutos’ Rivalry in the Rift Governor Ruto is a formidable politi- cal opponent armed with a silver tongue. Despite his NASA ‘miscalculations’, his influence has not waned in Bomet. He now faces his toughest political contest as he fights to retain the gubernatorial seat. The MP for Sotik constituency and Dep- uty Speaker, Dr. Joyce Laboso, is running against Isaac Ruto. She is a unique proposition for Ruto as it is believed she is the DP’s proxy in the county.

The momentum of her campaign
has been emboldened in no small part courtesy of the DP’s vast resources. She is URP’s iron sceptre to Ruto’s rebellion. Nonetheless, due to Isaac Ruto’s popular- ity and cultural practices, the incumbent will retain his seat much to the ire of the DP.
Munya vs. Kiraitu Contest Over the last decade, the county has shown a growing affinity to pluralistic politics that is not driven by sycophancy. During the 2013 General Elections, the county placed itself on the map of the country as one of the most democratic communities in terms of political sobri- ety.

Despite voting for President Uhuru Kenyatta almost man to man, the county elected its MPs and Ward Representatives from a wide range of parties. Governor Munya has come across as maverick prone to political clumsiness. The Somali miraa fiasco particularly ex- hibited his lack of diplomatic nous and ar- rogance which strained relations between the two countries. Further to this, last year, Munya appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee where he was grilled for not spending money allocated for development.

The crux of the inquiry was on why Meru County spent less than half of the Sh2.8 billion allocated for de- velopment expenditure, leaving Sh2.2 bil- lion unused. The Auditor General’s office claimed that Sh2 billion could not be ac- counted for by the county. But perhaps more disturbing has been his dalliance with CORD which has made some political analysts to brand the re- gion as a swing county. This new-found trifle is seen as a way of Munya protecting himself and his cohorts from all the finan- cial impropriety occasioned by his admin- istration. It is all about political survival and expediency for him.

Nonetheless, it will be a tight race but all odds are pointing to Kiraitu beating Munya to the gubernatorial race owing to his track record and his superior political capital.
Mandago vs. Buzeki: Jubilee vs. Independent The fierce race between Mandago and Buzkei is essentially being billed as a rival- ry between Jubilee and the Independents. It’s a reality that cannot be wished away and more so in Uasin Gishu County where Buzeki is running as an Independent. Buzeki who hails from the Keiyo com- munity, the second largest sub-tribe in the county, has often accused the incum- bent of being tribal by allowing one sub- tribe to dominate county.

Mandago hails from the populous Nandi sub-tribe. The Nandi community is the predominant power brokers in the county comprised of wealthy businessmen. Mandago com- mands four (out of the six) constituencies which are predominantly Nandi thereby having an upper-hand. Also, Mandago brandishes his development record by showing how he has upgraded the Eldo- ret Hawkers Market, which is serving all people in the county.

Further to this, he states that 30 wards in the county have also benefited from Sh6 million each for water projects. This will be another close race but our forecasts and talking to residents on the ground shows that Mandago will easily defend his governor seat.

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