Not so long ago Kenyans were ranked second happiest people in the region after Somali. For a happy people, it’s rather disturbing how quarrelsome and petty we can get with each other. From the National to the devolved government, Senate to National Assembly, Kenyans are always shouting at each other.
The apparent grudge the two levels of government have towards each other is playing out in Parliament. The Senate and National Assembly are at each other’s neck. One minute debating which House is more powerful, the next minute ignoring reason from either side.
The confusion that has characterized the implementation of the Constitution has been baffling to say the least. Whether one supported the Constitution or not is inconsequential, it reflects the will of the people and its words are law.
It’s not lost to the public, especially those acquainted with devolution matters, the frustration devolved governments have faced courtesy of the national government. Point in case being the late disbursement of funds and failure to honor transition of important devolved services, which are still run by State parastatals.
Nonetheless, the public remains aware of the monies squandered by the devolved government in useless projects that have little bearing for the country or the specific counties. From overpriced wheelbarrows to bloated county legal charges.
This in a sense justifies the idea that devolution has succeeded in devolving corruption. What we have is not devolution but rather a replication of a centralized government in the form of 47 individuals who unfortunately consider their positions to be bigger than what they actually are.
The Senate which is expected to protect devolution in the House, appears to be the most frustrated by the process. Resulting to senators rallying colleagues to abscond the 3rd Devolution conference in Meru, which had health as one of the agendas that both houses have debated fervently on the floor.
The two arms of government that can implement devolution, the Executive and Parliament were conspicuously missing at the event. Only one MP and two Senators saw it sensible to attend the devolution conference.
Meanwhile National Assembly has renewed their fight against approval of the Ksh322 million for oversight by Senators. Not too long ago, Senators had promised to block any legislation from National Assembly over the same.
While the country is being treated to a circus of power play a few questions come to mind, what is so scary about devolution that we can’t support it accordingly? Who loses when the country goes through successful devolution?
Why can’t the national government provide funds in good time close down parastatals performing devolved functions and let devolution thrive? This is the sure way to absolve itself of blame from the public.
As for the County governments, the electorate should not spare those governors who devolved corruption in their counties or the Members of County Assembly who can’t rise to be counted. Why should the Senate be fighting to introduce oversight role when MCAs are supposed to hold their County governments in check?
Most importantly, can we find a way to extend the right of recall to governors as well? Power is with the people and until we make it clear who has the power, the elite will continue to take us through these meaningless wars of words that leave us poorer.