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Team probing devolution winds up

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 15 – Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi says legislation needs to be put in place as fast as possible to enable all county authorities within the new Constitution to kick off their operations at the same time.

Speaking during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities on Friday, the Local Government Minister pointed out that this would ensure equity in all the counties nationwide.

He further said that the Task Force put in place last November to look at the whole issue on devolution as outlined in the Constitution, with a view of coming up with requisite pieces of legislation to activate the operations of county governments is due to finish its work next week. It is tasked with the onus of proposing necessary legislation to be endorsed by Parliament for effective administration of the 47 counties.

"We owe it to the country because it is like telling somebody that my children are allowed to go to school and another person\’s children are not allowed to go to school and that is unfair," he said.

"We must find a mechanism that will bring some equity and fair process for all the counties to have that initial start at the same time," he added.

The Deputy Premier emphasised the need for a law to be put in place that will enable the specific needs of each county dealt with.

"You will have counties that will have a number of urban centres in them. They will also make specific recommendations on how we should handle those urban areas and distinguish between areas like Nairobi and Mombasa which are both capital centres in all sense," he said.

His sentiments were echoed with the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities Chairman Mohammed Gabow who pointed out the needs for each county to be looked at critically before funds are allocated.

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"There is no use of allocating further funds for places like Nairobi and Kakamega which are already headquarters and have all those facilities," Mr Gabow stated.

Already the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities is planning to collect views from Kenyans on how they want the devolved units managed.

The Local Government Ministry has in the meantime warned all local authorities against any misuse of funds allocated to them saying this will lead to disciplinary action.

Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi said any waste of resources like land and even employment without approval will not be tolerated.

He says the move was aimed at reducing the huge loss of resources that has frequently beset local authorities countrywide.

"Any officer who makes the council incur a loss will be held personally responsible even if that officer has already left the service," he stated. "There have been many illegal employments of casual labourers where the minister has not approved the budget."

Mr Mutahi told the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities that all town clerks and councillors had been asked to be extra vigilant with funds allocated to them.

"If you employ people without the approval of the minister, it is illegal. We are drawing the clerks\’ attention to Article 26(5) where they will be held personally responsible together with the councillors. It is an issue which requires us all to participate," he said. 

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