Was Devolution only a leeway for looting of Public Resources?
By Emmanuel Otieno Obwanga
Imara Fellow ~Kisumu
August 2010 remains the Hallmark in Kenya history when Kenyans adopted a new constitution.The 2010 constitution was hailed by many people including those in the academia and Kenyans believed that through the adoption of the new constitution the country would be many steps ahead.
One of the few things to be celebrated in this constitution is that ,it fundamentally altered the republic governance paradigm through decreeing a national value system ,providing for a comprehensive bill of rights and establishment of a devolved system of governance.In some way it had ease power struggles by controlling the exercise of excess executive authority that had threatened to plunge the nation into a system of anarchy.
The launch of the 2010 constitution which anchored devolution made Kenyans believed that a trans-formative era was on the way.However it remains a mystery of explanation that the same document was only understood by a few Caucus of elites, probably the learned friends and fellows who seize the opportunity of translating the articles as per their rhythm dictation.Thus it became a game of goose that anyone who fails to dance to the set tune of translation was quoted to has misunderstood the clauses and articles .
Notably after the 2013 general elections which marked the implementation of devolution ,a few spotlights were seen.The allocation of 35% of resources to the county governments provided a room for grass-root developments and even economic shifts ,something that was going to take us decades to achieve.The creation of positions which included governor’s and Senators made Kenyans believed that finally accountability of local resources would be a throw away matter into the pit.Additionally women were given representation by being allowed to elect a woman representative and equally somehow solved the leadership gender dispute that had separated them from their male counterparts.
It was a new start but not for the common mwananchi,who was subdued to pay more taxes for the new positions .As Kenyans were being overburdened ,the elected honorable leaders were busy demanding for house mortgages ,medical allowances and even an allowance to allow them marry more than one wife.
Barely a few months after it’s partial implementation the 2010 constitution began to experience it’s storm over Paradise struggles.There was a board of contention between the two level of governments over how best to manage the process of devolution work.There were also jitters on levels of funding,transfer of functions ,assets and liabilities ,the brotherhood of these two levels of government and the role of county assemblies as defined by the constitution.
It has been seen ,not once or twice but severally when the Senate and the National assembly scrambled over who remains legible to draft laws,between council of governor’s and the Senate over summoning of governor’s who need to respond to audit queries.These supremacy battles have only softened ends for looters of public resources and delayed the enactment of key legislation especially those touching on budget issues.
As expected ,the transition of powers to devolved system never took place.This is what was going to allow devolution to work well, as Central government would delegate some of its functions to the county government.When The Transition Authority was established under the transition to Devolved Governments Act -2012( section 4) it was expected that the following objectives would be achieved;
- Determination of resource requirements for the county governments.
- Carrying out of social audit of human resources of both local authorities and that of National government.
- Complete transfer of functions to county governments.
Unfortunately these functions were never executed satisfactorily by the time the authority was in existence. In addition ,the Transition Authority had not clearly stipulated some functions such as ;
- Costing of service Delivery
- Audit and transfer of public assets and liabilities,
- Rationalization and deployment of human resource between the national and county governments.
This lakuna has hence provided cartels within the system an opportune time to acquire resources unto themselves.
From the stories of 10 wheelbarrows costing 1 million shillings to the tales of one steel gate costing over 7 million and from the disappearance of NYS funds to those of Dams construction , significantly puts into question whether whatever we voted for was thrown into dust bin and a new document from a villain state replacing it.
If devolution had given senators powers to summon corrupt governors ,then why is it difficult for them to appear?Do they mean to tell Kenyans that they knew of a hidden agenda that Kenyans never saw during the conception stage of the 2010 Constitution?. Furthermore the failure of legal institutions such as the E.A.C.C to arrest those charged with corruption clearly tells you that what we have might just be another sessional paper 10 being advertised in the current caliber.
A simple question to ask ; how comes a whole county government health department totally lacks an Intensive Care Unit claiming to suffer from inadequate funds ,yet the same county government has the capability to sponsor members of county assembly to benchmark on how to recycle waste materials while some are sponsored to watch world cup football match?Is this not impunity that is unforgivable? Is this not an act of pretendo
At the same time the counties being led by ” The Excellencies” have extended their looting experience even to developmental structures.How does a member of county assembly relaunch a project initially done by his or her predecessor and makes the public believe that they are seriously working?
Currently corrupt leaders easily walk away with graft cases and even ready to manipulate the media so that the public believes them to be clean and accord them sympathy.If the meant articles within the 2010 constitution are not fully implemented then the sets goals of devolution would befall on deaf ears of hungry looters and we would not be surprised if the common ‘mwananchi’ would be turned into a beggar under their own jurisdiction.Unless we become doers and move away form formulations overtime then we will be poor by our own choices,just as Mahatma Gandhi once said ” An ounce of practice is worth more than tonnes of preaching”,so be it.