BY JOSEPH KAMOTHO
Who is a Governor? According to a simple Oxford English dictionary, a governor is a person mandated to control part of a territory or rule a dominion. In the new Kenya, the definition of the title could not be any different. For once, the title would not be a preserve of one person, the Central Bank Governor.
A governor in colonial Kenya ruled on behalf of the royalty whereas in the US, governors are elected to exercise authority in the states within the jurisdiction of that nation. Like the US, Kenya will be electing governors and Senators in the newly created counties.
Counties, forty seven in number, under the new Kenyan Constitution will be headed by elected governors many years after the nationalists abolished a decentralised system in the newly independent country. But the big question is, what sort of person would the electorate choose as a governor in the new constitutional dispensation?
Since the governor at the County level will be the chief executive of a unit, the person elected must be visionary with managerial skills, resourceful and above all, a humble leader. Persons with such qualities are few in the country that has survived through dictatorship, intrigues and manipulation of sorts in a one party set up and now in a multi party system.
Governors and Senators in advanced democracies are presidential materials and it is safe to reiterate here and now that days of activists ascending to the throne will soon be history. A future presidential candidates will be to a large extent persons who have served as governors or Senators and will be judged by track performance in those units.
Maybe with time the leadership of parties will see the need for accountable leaders and usher in checks and balances that also lack in the parties and the National Assembly. For sometime now, leaders have been choosing candidates and constitutions are treated as mere pieces of paper. Political parties are the epitome of authoritarian rule as recently manifested in the loud and silent opposition to the enactment of the new constitution that promises to tame bullies and authors of impunity.
Under the independent constitution, the Governor-General was the head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces while the prime minister, performed the duties of head of government. The State and the government were separate entities. Semi autonomous regions under that constitution had parliaments and were ruled by regional presidents but those positions had to be scrapped as soon as Kenya became a republic. Jomo Kenyatta assumed the position of head of Government and Head of State in a restructured system.
Kenyans last heard of the title in 1964 when the Lancaster House Constitution was amended to ostensibly cement national unity. The Governor General, Malcolm Macdonald ceased to perform the functions of that office in independent Kenya.
The colony was ruled via the ruthless provincial administration headed by commissioners and chiefs since retained. These colonial leftover bullies for 29 years presided over elections which for all intents and purposes were not free and fair. Kenyans will not miss the services of the provincial administration.
It is for the foregoing reasons that the people said enough is enough and called for the abolition of the provincial administration and replacement of the same with semi autonomous units headed by an elected governor.
(The writer is a former cabinet minister and an official of major political parties including the former ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) Email: [email protected])