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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 13 April 2015

GOVERNORS FORM UNION TO SIDESTEP GOVERNMENT MEDDLING



Kenya: Governors have formed a new body to champion their counties’ rights amidst fears that government is keen on controlling their present organisation, the Council of Governors (CoG). The governors have registered the Kenya Association of County Governments (KACG), which brings on board governors, county speakers and members of county assemblies (MCAs) Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga is the interim chairman of the new outfit. The position of two deputies — one a governor and the other a county assembly speaker — are yet to be filled. The treasurer of the new body will be a deputy governor and this position has not been filled too. “KACG will have a global network and will mediate in counties’ disputes as well as address challenges affecting counties. It will be speaking on behalf of those leaders working at the county level,” said a governor who declined to be named. The Standard on Sunday has learnt that Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto is being fronted to take over the chairmanship of the new outfit once it meets to elect officials. Ruto is the current chairman of the CoG, a key organ that represents the 47 county governors, as provided for in Section 19 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act. His term comes to an end in May and cannot be renewed. During his two-year term at the helm, he has cut a figure of a fierce, unrepentant defender of devolution. See also: Nigerians vote for powerful governors in state elections Mr Ruto’s Personal Secretary Benard Siele said: “There is overwhelming pressure from governors and MCAs for him (Ruto) to take over the leadership of the new body, but he is not committal on the request.” His hard stance gave the CoG a face and authority but often put him at the crossroads with the Jubilee government which has repeatedly accused him of working for the Opposition. Governors are apprehensive about the government’s dedication to fully implement devolution. They have questioned, for instance, the urgency by the government to phase out the Transitional Authority (TA) whose work has been taken up by a new body. Recently, the Inter-governmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) was constituted by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru to take over from the TA. The committee of seven members, to be chaired by former Local Government PS Karega Mutahi, will be tasked with implementing decisions of the Summit and the council. MANY INTERESTS However, governors fear the new outfit will be a mere tool which would be used by the Executive to control and frustrate them, especially the outspoken ones. IGRTC’s budget will be controlled by the Ministry of Devolution and the governors fear this would bring it directly under the control of the Executive.
It is worth noting that all the governors and officials from the TA boycotted IGRTC’s official launch, possibly signaling their unease with the new outfit. “There are many interests in devolution,” said TA chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi. “There are many people in government who want it to work but others are slow to embrace it because of personal reasons.” The authority’s mandate expires in March 2016, but there has been pressure from the government for it to hand over to the IGRTC. The IGRTC is supposed to implement summit resolutions, and those of the CoG and take over TA’s pending functions. The TA is yet to do an asset inventory of the all defunct local authorities, and has not done human resource inventory of the counties. It is also supposed to cost functions of county governments, but it is yet to do so. Governors have questioned the need to form the new outfit, more than a year before TA’s mandate expires. The chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), Mr Charles Nyachae, has also voiced his concerns about the willingness of the Executive to fully implement devolution. The election of the new CoG officials is slated for May after the Second Devolution Conference in Kisumu County. The Standard on Sunday has established that there are plans by the government to influence the election of the next council chairman to get a governor sympathetic to the regime. Some of the governors who have been mentioned as Ruto’s potential successors include Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ahmed Abdullahi Mohammed (Wajir), Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Peter Munya (Meru) and Salim Mvurya (Kwale), who is the council’s vice-chairperson. See also: Nigerians vote for powerful governors in state elections Mohammed, who is also the council’s Finance Committee chairman, said although his name has been proposed, it will be up to his colleagues to decide on the next chair. “I have not declared interest in the council’s chair position but if my colleagues deem it fit, it will be upon them to endorse me,” said the governor, who spoke to The Standard on Sunday on the telephone. Lusaka said he would not be seeking an elective seat. “I have served my two years’ term. It is good to let others also lead us. I am not interested in the chair or vice chair’s position, however if the governors believe I should be in any leadership committee, they will make a decision,” he said. Governor Kidero lost to Governor Mvurya in the last election after serving only one term as vice chairman.