, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – A meeting of the Council of Governors and Association of Members of the County Assemblies of Kenya has resolved to push on with a referendum to increase funds allocated to county governments to a minimum of 45 percent from the current 15 percent.
Isaac Ruto who chairs the Council of Governors said legal backing will guard counties’ allocation against the whims and discretion of the national government and the Transition Authority.
In a thinly veiled attack on National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Ruto who is the Bomet Governor said: “I want to tell one of those who is always bragging that they have the tyranny of numbers… I want to tell him that the tyranny is with the people and we are always with the people at the grassroots. We are saying stop chest-thumping and come to table and let us dialogue.”
The resolution read out by the Council’s Secretary Ken Lusaka said the referendum will be conducted within the year.
“Counties will undertake civic education to the village level on devolution and referendum,” he continued. “A committee will be formed to spearhead and protect devolution made up of Deputy Governors, Speakers and leaders of the County Assemblies,” Bungoma Governor Lusaka said.
The move comes after the Commission on Revenue Allocation increased county allocations to 279 billion shillings which is 40 per cent of the total revenue that can be shared for the fiscal year 2014/15.
A similar campaign last year lost momentum after Governors and Senators from the Jubilee Coalition withdrew their support of the plebiscite saying that CORD Leader Raila Odinga was planning to use the campaign as a way to repackage himself for the next polls; this is after losing the March 2013 polls to Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, Ruto at the time said unforeseen priorities such as the Westgate Mall terror attack prompted Governors to go slow on the referendum campaigns.
The increase of revenue also comes in the midst of concerns that most counties have low capacities to utilise funds allocated to them so far.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said Kenyans voted for devolution during the August 2010 plebiscite so that they can address the inequalities of the last 50 years of independence.
“When we got our independence, our founding fathers committed to eradicate three vices facing our people namely poverty, illiteracy and diseases, but today some of this vices have even multiplied, let those who are trying to kill devolution know that if county governments fail, the restlessness we are seeing in the youth will lead to a revolution,” said Governor Mutua.
Ruto stated that the referendum will be a ‘devolution vs revolution vote.’
The Governors also agreed to back the MCAs push to have a Sh7 million car grant and mortgage instead of the loan that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission had recommended.
The MCAs led by Baringo Majority Leader Elijah Toroitich and Nyandarua County Assembly Speaker Ndegwa Wahome said they must be facilitated by the national government for car grants and seed money for mortgages as Members of the National Assembly.
“The Governors must have our back when we are fighting for our emoluments so that when you are fighting off interference from others will stand with you. Let us agree and carry the message from this convention that the 47 governments will defeat the one (national) government to protect devolution.
‘The true family of devolution’ as the new alliance called itself also backed the proposed County Development Boards but said that all elected leaders in the County must be representation. Kiambu Governor William Kabogo added that all devolved kitties must also be put in one basket to avoid duplicity of projects.
“All leadership at the county level must in unity oversee the future and success of devolution,” read part of the resolution.
“All the funds coming to the county, CDF, Uwezo, Roads money, REA money, HIV Aids funds etc, must all be put into one pot.” stated Kabogo.