By Joshua Odongo Nono
Abraham Lincoln once said, â€if I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, Iâ€™d spend six hours sharpening my axe.â€ Is this the case here? The okoa Kenya draft bill proposes eye catching reforms that according to my friends from CORD will ameliorate the lives of Kenyans regardless of their political divide.
According to the drafters, the bill will not only promote inclusivity, harmony and inflate grassroots development but also improve management of elections and ensure the locals benefit from the national resources.
The strong points of the bill according to its drafters are:
Increase of county funds to 45 percent in which 5 percent should directly go to Ward development fund; greater accountability by the County Government through handing their quarterly returns of revenue, expenditure and development priorities;
Greater public participation in setting priorities and in county monitoring and evaluation. The proposals made include articles directly touching on transparency and accountability, provides for a single voters register and the use of electronic voter identification i.e. article 83A, 86A,B and C and 88A and many other alterations and additions to the constitution.
On electoral reforms, the bill sets to give IEBC a target of registering not less than 80 percent of eligible voters in all electoral areas.
On CDF, the bill proposes that it implements approved functions of the national Government in each constituency. The national Government with 55 percent of national cake will be expected to implement projects distinct from the county government.
On land reforms, the bill seek to address the conflicts between the National lands commission and the lands ministry by ensuring that NLC will exclusively all the registries and process all land i.e. private, public or community.
The drafters have also reiterated that all parties have been called upon for dialogue on the stated proposals. It gives Kenyans an opportunity to address some defects of the 2010 constitution.
The weak points of this bill:
There was no inclusiveness when this bill was being drafted; very few chosen parties were involved in this process which clearly shows the lack of sincerity in this bill In regards to county allocation, I strongly feel that the approach the bill is taking is ill-informed and will lead to further misappropriation of funds, I donâ€™t disagree to the fact that counties need more funding but am in the view that structures must be put in place before such funds are increased.
Most of Our Governors are clueless about governance, understanding the constitution and majority think that flying a flag flanked with many bodyguards is what constitutes leadership. In most counties we witness unbalanced budgets, higher demands for perks and excessive expenditure on Cars, gadgets, furniture et cetera. Most of our Governors donâ€™t know their job description.
Nowhere in the bill do we have serious issues like reducing the number of representatives especially from the national assembly that is costing Kenyans billions of shillings.
Nowhere in the bill is the reduction or even merging of small counties discussed. We all know that 47 counties is way above the number of counties Kenyans anticipated.
My Recommendation: The central government should assist county governments in the management of county funds. The county governments should be engaged in continuous workshops, exchange programmes and civic education on leadership, ways of ruling and understanding the systems of governance before the county allocation is increased.
This bill if well planned would be a people driven bill rather than a CORD affair bill as itâ€™s strongly stipulated in their intentions. CDF has helped a great deal but with the inclusion of devolution makes it a duplication of roles and functions, my feeling is that Mps and county reps should come up with projects and budgets within their areas of jurisdiction and this should be discussed at county level and the funds disbursed from one source.
The bottom line, the legislators shouldnâ€™t be allowed to control or manage any funds. The role of the senate should be revised and the number of representation in parliament and county assemblies should be drastically reduced. The number of counties should be drastically reduced from a high 47 to a low 12 or 14 for proper management.
Sincerity is key in such endeavors. Its time for our leaders to own their failures and stop the blame games. Our leaders should protect us not harm us, our leaders should work for us not against us, our leaders should help us not hurt us.
Our leaders should know that politics is not about a contest for Egos or domain for special interest but it should be about living up to their responsibilities and finally meet their moral and spiritual obligations. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each one of us so us to recover our intellectual and moral strength as we strive to rediscover our sense of common purpose.
The author was Deputy presidential candidate in 2013 general elections