Why Devolution has Brought More Harm than Good

Integrity Center, Nairobi. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission is responsible for monitoring corruption cases. (Image Courtesy)

The beginning of devolution raised the hopes of many Kenyans with the mind-set all the development projects that were foreseen by the national government would now be devolved and be under the custodian of the county governments that have now been in existence for six years.

The main purpose of having a devolved system of governance was to ensure that every part of the country registers equal development. Against the perception of a majority of Kenyans, devolution has ended up bringing less development and numerous counts of corruption due to the misappropriate handling of finances meant for development by the county bosses.

Recently, the 2014-2015 Auditor General report was released in which, majority of the 47 counties have been questioned over massive wastage and misappropriation of funds. A total of 33 governors are set to appear before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) for questioning on the same issue. 14 out of the 33 are second-term serving governors who will defend their performance in queries that will be flagged by the Auditor General between the months of April and July. As a common tendency, the remaining 19 will shoulder their underperformance to their immediate predecessor who lost in the previous election.

While the levels of development continue to be poor, the national government has not stopped working towards acquiring numerous financial loans amounting to hundreds of millions of Kenyan shillings if not billions that Kenyans’ have not felt their usage. A huge chunk of loans acquired by the government ends up being lost in graft either at the national or the county level. This has for long, been a bad vice and tendency that has eaten into Kenya’s administrative realm. Sadly, most Kenyans have learnt to live with it, which shouldn’t be the case.

As summoned by the PAIC, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho is set to provide justifications of how Ksh. 500 million in local revenue was not deposited into the county revenue fund. For a long time now, Mombasa residents from specific parts have complained of poor garbage disposal in the county. A further Ksh. 289 million that was paid to a garbage collection firm is also expected to be accounted for by the governor.

Machakos governor Alfred Mutua was also summoned before the committee for questioning over some Ksh. 72 million that Machakos Members of County Assembly (MCAs) spent to attend a ploughing championship in Bordeaux, France. The Machakos county boss is also expected to account for millions of shillings that were used to sink boreholes that did not end up yielding water.

Uasin Gishu governor, Jackson Mandago who is also serving his second term in office is expected to account for up to Ksh. 133 million worth of local revenue collected in the county that was not deposited into the county revenue fund.

These are only but a sample of the huge chunk of taxpayer’s money that was devolved to the counties to oversee development. According to the 2014-2-15 Auditor General Report, it is evident that most of the county bosses have taken devolution for granted by using it as a self-enriching scheme other than ensuring the development of infrastructure to facilitate improved human existence.

Devolution is supposed to have yielded positive results in terms of development other than what the Kenyan system depicts. It is high time for the law to take its course on matters corruption and misuse of public funds. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should work closely with other relevant authorities in ensuring that integrity and accountability is achieved across all public offices. Those found guilty of graft allegations should be held accountable irrespective of their influence or public office they command.

When devolution was introduced in Kenya, Kenyans were urged to give it time for positive change to be noticed. It is now six years since its introduction yet more harm than good has been registered through devolution contrary to earlier assurances.

In as much as many of these leaders have failed to in the mandate given to them by the citizens, Kenyans too need to be courteous when deciding what leaders they elect into office every five years. The politics where a leader is elected based on what he/she stand for and what he/she will do for the people will go an extra mile in enhancing development. A good leader is one who has the interest of the people at heart.

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