Educate illiterate County Leaders â€“ NOW!
By George Morara
I have been studying the progress of Devolution in Kenya and while the objective was absolutely wonderful, unfortunately performance in many counties is less than impressive â€“ far below expectations. In my view, Devolution in Kenya has been hijacked by illiterate, corrupt or otherwise leaders lacking in basic imagination and insight.
Counties like Machakos and Mombasa are managing their resources â€“ not wonderfully but in such a manner that they can account for what they are doing with the large financial resources devolved to them from the central government.
On the other hand, counties such as Nyamira and Tharaka Nithi with motors: â€œEkaunti Enâ€™gainiâ€ (Clever County!) and â€œThe Strongholdâ€ respectively, are perfomaing dismally. In fact to say that they are â€œperformingâ€ at all, even at minimal, may come across as some credit. But spare a thought for Turkana County whose website hasnâ€™t even taken off nearly three years on!
From my review of county government websites, transparency is an issue. Almost all the counties â€“ especially those with an adverse audit report, have not published their respective performance or audit reports on their websites. Likewise, most County budgets are inaccessible with the exception of a few counties â€“ a good example is Machakos County whose executive summary is presented on the countyâ€™s tidy website.
The citizens of Machakos county, are for the first time, enjoying a slice of a cake they once never thought they would taste. They havenâ€™t yet made it, but they are headed in the right direction even though Governor Mutua has prioritized among others, CCTV to bolster security for workers â€“ except that he hasnâ€™t created enough jobsâ€¦not bad though; the Machakos County is way ahead, if not leading in Devolution.
I must point out that despite most counties singing loud about their work with the needy and poor, clear plans to eradicate poverty are absent. Sporadic handouts are randomly dished out in form of cash or cheques for a photo on their social media updates
Machakos county is the most articulate in how they have allocated their resources not only to address poverty, but also to cover all vulnerable groups under their Education, Gender and Welfare Department. The details include the elderly, those with disabilities, mental health and HIV AIDS. Some counties proudly report â€œpainting of hospitalâ€ as part of their development agenda.
The last two years have created a massive thieving gang of leadership from across the country. For the common citizen, devolution though highly celebrated, has a long way to translate into equitable sharing of the national cake. The National audit report is awash with irregularities from county to county â€“ governments are unable to account for revenue, massively bloated expenditure, missing documents and paperwork for government properties such as vehicles, receipts and land. Again MY County of NYAMIRA is leading on the list of shame.
While reflecting on how to resolve this situation because we simply havenâ€™t got the resources to jail everyone- bearing in mind that our judiciary system cannot dare throw a stone, let alone the first stone. The only alternative then, is a massive educational exercise that should be spearheaded by the central government
Here are people elected into positions that are happening for the very first time in the history of our nation. Large sums of money are being handed over to, clearly illiterate people. The transitional body set up to oversea Devolution being in a romantic relationship with our more corrupt and impotent central government. The Central government cannot get tough on county governments having passed on the virus to the baby at birth.
Ordinary citizens have no idea of what landed on their door â€“ are left at the mercy of these new economic mercenaries. Suddenly we are reading reports of MCAs paying a whopping 350,000 Kenya shillings for a meal over a lunch sitting. Even in Great Britain, thereâ€™d be an outcry if an MP spent more than 2,000 shillings lunch allowance!
It doesnâ€™t matter whether it takes a month long, during school holidays, let all MCAs and county ministers be hauled to Nairobi (house them at The Nairobi school for the duration) â€“ literally get them back to class for some thorough training on how to run Government â€“ Resource management, Prioritizing county needs and cross border networking and relations.
I am sure that Dr Alfred Mutua would do very well as part of those delivering the workshop supported by secretaries from the principal ministries â€“ Finance, Education, Health, Planning and Development, Agriculture etc. I should imagine some secretaries the likes of Ann Waiguru would want to join the classes and not as a lecturer.
If this educational strategy does not materialize, county governments will just be hungry offspring of the corrupt mother government that has, and continues to defraud and fleece Kenyans. And if I were the governor of a county like Nyamira, and had no clue on what to do for my people; rather than get such an awful audit report, I would wait and watch keenly what the likes of The Machakos governor are doing, steal the ideas and implement them projects in my county, proportionally.
All those titles such as â€œHis Excellenceâ€ Governor so and so, and â€œHonourableâ€ MCA so and so â€“ should be used on merit. Take for example Mr Cheboi, Governor of Baringo, pushing the titles a bit with his own administration police officer as aide-de-camp while â€œaddressing Parliamentâ€! Really we should cry. Not laugh.