Revv22's Blog

November 23, 2011

Focus on Election vs Focus on Devolution

Filed under: Uncategorized — revv22 @ 10:53 am

Cabinet through Constitutional Affairs minister Kilonzo has reiterated that they wont even think of withdrawing the bill on Election dates. Kenyans are deeply engrossed in debates surrounding presidential candidates, plausible running mates and alliances. In the past couple of weeks, focus has been directed towards election dates that I feel should come second to devolution; a hush-hush topic that parliament is yet to give a way forward on, with regard to the crucial bills touching on it on.

The difference between August and December in my view, is four months of additional ‘resource mobilisation’. IEBC Chair Issak Hassan has expressed that it will be impossible to effectively conduct elections in August, but hasn’t come out to clearly state what the four months will achieve.

The fact that we still get excited by presidential elections in the eve of unveiling County Governments and Governors leaves me questioning our respective reasons for voting in the new constitution.

When we look at the two main, or should I say two most popular contenders for the presidency; Uhuru and Raila from a county and voter constituency perspective, you get an interesting realisation. Raila’s perceived voter blocks are the western kenya regions and the coastal regions. (That is assuming Ruto has managed to ‘ponyoka’ with all rift valley support.) Meaning that Railas support base constitute among the most underdeveloped counties save for the north-eastern parts of the Country. Uhuru’s support on the other hand, is believed to stem mainly from central, eastern and the Rift valley regions (also assuming Ruto delivers that wholesome support). These constitute some of the most developed and economically viable counties in the country.

It means therefore that a presidency by either will have varying degrees of backyard pressure when it comes to national resource allocation and county development. A Raila presidency is likely to face heavy pressure from his suPport base to bring them up to par with the more developed counties. Rightly so since they had been marginalised by the Kenyatta and Moi governments which didn’t take kindly to criticism. On the other hand, a Uhuru presidency may have pressure from its support base not for the same reason of development but for ensuring that their regions stay ahead in an economically competitive sense. It is not a hard task to see the strides that have been taken in the last 6 or so years in transforming area such as those fed by the now revamped Thika superhighway. From real estate to agriculture. An Uhuru presidency, will be burdened with the need to maintain the high economic viability of those counties. It is the right of voters to demand their needs be prioritised even if its to the detriment of the 49 % who voted otherwise; and that is perhaps the greatest shortcoming of democracy.

There is therefore a need to be keen on how government intends to implement the devolution principles that did the bulk of the work in selling this new constitution at referendum stage. The bill seek to advice implementation in a broad sense ranging from fiscal management to local assembly set ups to administrative linkages between central and county govts. This is where our focus should be since it is what will determine how resources, access and freedom will interact to ensure much needed development.

The Governors and county leadership will have to be astute negotiators when presenting their budgets to national government. It is no doubt that some counties are wealthier than others given the resources and access they have and they will demand that their larger contribution to the national cake be equally rewarded. In a capitalist democracy this is absolutely normal.

It is important therefore that we have county leadership that is more technocrats than politician. The idea of having former parliamentarians who could barely manage CDF funds should be thrown out of the window.


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