, NAIVASHA, Kenya, Jan 26 – Since independence, devolution has been a very emotive and often divisive issue. This stems from the fact that the otherwise well meaning intentions of those who have actively advocated for an efficient and effective system of devolution have been hijacked by others with intentions that are not necessarily genuine nor good for our nation.
As a result, Kenyans who would otherwise support the devolution advocated for by the first group end up opposing it on the basis of the fear and despondency created by the second group.
Those who have been involved in the Devolution debate can be categorized into three categories. The first category are those who genuinely advocate for devolution as a way of pushing resources closer to the people. Kenyans believe that a well thought out devolution system will ensure that they will have a better access to resources as opposed to a purely centralized system which they believe will concentrate resources in Nairobi.
The second category are those who perceive that devolution will help to reserve all jobs, resources, businesses etc for the people indigenous to that particular region. To the best of the understanding, after their version of devolution also known as Majimbo is introduced, all the people who have residences, businesses, properties, jobs etc in these regions will be required to surrender the same to those indigenous to that area.
The third category comprises of those, mainly political leaders who view devolution as a means of creating a power base in their respective regions so they can perpetually use these basis in perceived power games with the Central government. To them, the larger the regions the better as they will held the political leadership more power, more leverage and more influence.
The third group have also developed sophiscated marketing tools, developing defensive arguments such as the one which says that their strong, large and unwieldy regions are the only way to check against abuse of power by a strong executive at the centre.
Juxtaposed against these 3 groups are the majority of Kenyans who have no problem with the kind of devolution as advocated by the first group but who live in morbid fear of the kind of devolution or Majimboism advocated by the second and third group. To them, Majimboism is another acronym for ethnic cleansing, secession and denial of one’s right to work, live, do business or own property in any part of this country.
Unfortunately majority of Kenyans are in this category who live with fear that stems from the confusion between the harmless and positive devolution and the destructive, dangerous and negative devolution
The PNU Coalition Movement supports and is fully committed to an efficient, effective, equitable and just system of devolution. During independence era, the country’s population was 9 Million people. Today, the population stands at 40 Million people. Devolution is therefore inevitable to deal with the challenges of managing a country whose population has grown by close to 500 percent.
The Coalition movement is equally opposed to the destructive and dangerous system of Majimboism that seeks to create ethnic fiefdoms while threatening Kenyans with evictions from where they have settled, purchased property, set up businesses or are otherwise gainfully employed.
In supporting devolution, we are categorical that whichever system is adopted for devolution, it should have the following elements:
1. Devolution should push resources as close to the people as possible. The simple definition of devolution should be one that enables the people to access the resources in the easiest and most effective manner
2. Devolution units should not be overly large as to make the local people unable to contribute to decision making on the use of resources in their regions. It should be noted that in the first Harmonized Draft Constitution, 82 devolution units (74 Counties, 8 Regions). In the Revised Draft Constitution, this was reduced to 47 regions. Any drastic reduction from these 47 regions will defeat the spirit of devolution which is to bring the resources closer to the people
3. Devolution should result in a cohesive nation that brings our peoples together and where our diversities are recognized and employed for the common good of all citizens
4. Devolution should result in a more efficient system for utilization of local resources with a view to accelerating economic growth. A sound devolution system should enable Kenya to identify hitherto undiscovered opportunities for economic growth. If all the devolution units are strong economically, Kenya as a whole will prosper.
5. Devolution should not be geared towards creating multiplicity of governments with the sole purpose of competing with local governments. Any governance structures created through devolution should compliment, not compete with central government
6. The Constituency Development Fund has been hailed as a success story throughout the world. It is only fair then that it is strengthened under whichever devolution model is adopted. It should be a devolution tier of its own under any devolution system to be adopted. We recommend that the 2.5% share of the budget allocated to constituencies be increased to 12.5 percent. All other devolved funds like Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) and the new funds created under the 2009/2010 budget should be incorporated into a centralized framework under the CDF and this be recognized as the bottom-most layer of devolution other either regions or counties.
7. Devolution should be as equitable as it should be just. In particular, resources allocated to a region should be commensurate with the resources generated from a region. Devolution should be an incentive not disincentive to development and hard work
8. Devolution should take due consideration to the communities of interest in a certain county or region to avoid problems and conflict in the future.
9. Devolution should not endanger national security
10. The natural resources in any region, irrespective of any system of devolution, should vest with the national government
11. All taxation matters shall vest with the Central Government.
12. While entrenching devolution, the constitution should address the Majimboism fears of Kenyans by expressly creating provisions that guard against ethnic entitlement of a region, ethnic cleansing, ethnic discrimination, secession and claims of autonomy.
In short we say “YES” to Devolution but “No” to Majimboism
We therefore recommend a three tier devolution structure encompassing National Government, Regional Governments and CDF.
As a result of the foregoing, PNU Coalition Movement recommends the following 33 regions:-
1. Nandi Region
2. Kericho Region
4. Marakwet-West Pokot Region
5. Nakuru-Nyandarua Region
6. Molo-Kuresoi Region
7. Uasin Gishu/Trans Nzoia Region
8. Turkana Region
9. Kajiado Region
10. Narok Transnara Region
11. Naivasha Region
12. Laikipa/Nyeri Region
13. Thika/Muranga/Kiambu Region
14. Kirinyaga/Embu/Mbeere Region
15. Isiolo/Samburu Region
16. Moyale Region
17. Marsabit Region
18. Garissa/Tana River Region
19. Mandera/Wajir Region
20. Taita Kilifi Region
21. Kisumu Region
22. South Nyanza Region
23. Central Nyanza Region
25. Meru Region
26. Machakos/Makueni Region
27. Mwingi/Kitui Region
28. Upper Coast Region
29. Lower Coast Region
30. Kakamega/Busia Region
31. Bungoma Region
32. Nairobi City
33. Mombasa City