Address devolution bottlenecks, says Raila

June 6, 2011 11:51 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday said there were still five outstanding issues on the devolved system of government that must be addressed before a consensus can emerge.

He therefore asked the Task Force on Devolved Government to come up with sober and acceptable views on the issues and make recommendations for workable solutions.

Addressing a consultative workshop of the Taskforce with Members of Parliament at the Kenya Institute of Administration (K.I.A.), the PM said one of the biggest challenges facing the country was how to attain equity, equality and Unity in Diversity.

He told members of Parliament that they were critical to the success or failure with the experiment with decentralisation, adding they must provide leadership in this process.

Once again, Mr Odinga appealed to the MPs to focus on the implementation of the Constitution and be in the forefront in ensuring that the letter and spirit of the new dispensation is observed by the government.

He added: “I also appeal to you to take lead in informing Kenyans about the new system of devolved government especially the role citizens will play in the management of the system as required by the Constitution.”

Emphasising that effective implementation of Devolution will require Kenyans to manage their diversity better than in the past the PM said diversity must not be the country’s weakness. “In fact, it has never been. The real problem has been the politicization of diversity,” he said.

He went on to say that as leaders they had a duty to actively cultivate and nurture the country’s diversity  and ensure the existence of diversity is an opportunity for resolving conflicts and creating a fairer and more equitable sharing of resources.

Mr Odinga named the first of the five contentious issues as, qualifications of governors, senators and county assembly members where voters were against “professional politicians” running as governors.

He however noted that the view was opposed on grounds that the only eligibility requirement under Article 180(2) is that the candidate for governor should be eligible for election as member of the county assembly.

Establishment of county public service is the second issue which the PM said was one of the most important and also most sensitive issues to be faced in the process of devolution as it will affect people with many years in public service as officials of the central government.

The third, he added, is the Provincial Administration where the Constitution calls for restructuring to make it to be in tune with the system of devolved government.”But we also know that the constitution provides for supremacy of the county governments in managing their affairs.”

He stated that the task Force should provide clear recommendations not only how the provincial Administration will be restructured, but also how it will “accord with respect” county governments.

The PM named the fourth contentious issue as the asymmetric devolution of functions that relates to devolution of functions to county governments to the extent that they have the capacity to perform them.

He explained that it might be politically unacceptable for some counties to have full powers and responsibilities over all functions assigned to them while others do not.

Vertical allocation of revenues was identified as the fifth issue with the PM saying the criteria for allocation of revenues collected nationally between the national government and county governments is not clear.

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