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UNDERSTANDING DEVOLUTION

President Kenyatta addressing devolution conference | Photo Courtesy

By Gufu Jattani Wario

What is the difference between devolution and decentralization?

Devolution – Is the transfer of functions, resources, powers and responsibilities from the central government to semi-autonomous territorial and sub-national units (County Governments) – in order to promote participatory democracy and sustainable development for the benefit of all citizens.

Decentralization – is the process of delegating sovereign power from a central authority to different levels of government.

Objects and principles of devolved government:

OBJECTS OF DEVOLUTION – Chapter 11 Art. 174 of CoK 2010

  • Promotion of democratic and accountable exercise of powers
  • To foster national unity by recognizing diversity;
  • To give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them;
  • To recognize the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development;
  • To protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalized communities;
  • To promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya;
  • To ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya;
  • To facilitate the decentralization of State organs, their functions and services, from the capital of Kenya; and
  • To enhance checks and balances and the separation of powers.
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PRINCIPLES OF DEVOLUTION – Chapter 11 Art. 175 of CoK 2010

County governments shall be based on:

  1. Democratic principles and separation of power
  2. Reliable sources of revenue to enable them to govern and deliver services effectively
  3. Ensuring that not more than two-thirds of the members of the representative bodies in each county government shall be of the same gender.

Distinct features of Kenya’s devolution

Level of government: Kenya’s devolution is unique to itself. It is based in Article 6 (2) of CoK 2010, which prescribes a system (national and County governments) that combines a measure of autonomy and inter-dependence leading to a cooperative system of devolved government.

Revenue distribution: Revenue raised nationally allocated to counties (not less than 15%) of recently audited accounts of revenue and approved by the National Assembly.

Decision making organs: National executive, Parliament, 47 County Executives and County Assemblies.

KENYA’S TRANSITION MECHANISM TO DEVOLVED GOVERNMENT:

KEY LEGISLATION THAT SUPPORTS DEVOLVED GOVERNMENT

  1. County Government Act, 2012
  2. Transition to Devolved Government Act, 2012
  3. Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2012
  4. Intergovernmental relations Act, 2012
  5. Public finance Management Act, 2012
  6. Transition County Allocation Revenue Act, 2013
  7. National Government Coordination Act, 2013.
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KEY INSTITUTIONS IN THE (TRANSITION) DEVOLVED GOVERNMENT

  • Transition Authority (TA) – Managed transition processes
  • Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA)
  • Parliament
  • Commission on Implementation of the Constitution – (CIC)
  • County Governments
  • National and County Government Coordination Summit
  • Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IRTC) – Succeeded Transition authority (TA)

ANTICIPATED BENEFITS OF DEVOLUTION 

  • Improved governance
  • Reduced political tension in the county
  • Increased economic activity in the county government
  • Improved delivery of public services
  • Management of basic public service at the grassroots level
  • Equitable allocation of public resources

CHALLENGES TO DEVOLUTION

  • Embedded Corruption
  • Conflicting functions
  • Increased impunity
  • Duplication of functions
  • Excessive taxation
  • Misinterpretation of the constitution

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO CHALLENGES OF DEVOLUTION

  • Strengthening civic education
  • Instituting checks and balances in devolved systems
  • Stiff penalties be meted on corrupt public servants
  • Harmonization and rationalization of functions
  • Empowering people to hold leaders to account
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • Broadening the tax base to ease the burden of taxation
  • Creating innovative ways on revenue mobilization

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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