NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Governors have insisted that the ‘pesa mashinani’ referendum call is still on course despite the government increasing the allocation to counties by Sh32 billion.
Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto says the grievances leading up to the referendum calls were not just based on the need to increase funding to Counties but to have the proposals on the raise entrenched in the Constitution to avoid negotiations every year.
“The issue is not that counties get an increase in the allocation, but that it has to be guaranteed in the Constitution and should not be subject to continuous haggling and negotiation every financial year—among other issues are land, which is a big issue and we believe counties must have a role in the management of land,” said Ruto.
He said they had already collected 1.2 million signatures, and were fine tuning their draft bill which will be presented to Parliament for adoption and scrutiny.
“We have seen that until this bill is passed, counties will not get their money, so now we have to ensure this bill is passed otherwise the budget will always be delayed because we can’t plan without knowing how much mush money we are getting,” posed Ruto.
The deal to increase the funding to counties to Sh258 billion was struck Wednesday during a meeting chaired by Deputy President William Ruto bringing together governors under the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council, Commission for Revenue Allocation and the Treasury.
At the same time, pressure continues to mount on the government to resolve the refusal by teachers to report to schools in North Eastern Kenya, five weeks after schools re-opened.
Ruto urged the government to find a solution to the insecurity concerns by teachers as it was crippling education in the region which already had limited resources.
“We have some sympathy to the teachers who were traumatized, we are aware that there is a teacher who lost his wife, there are teachers who saw their colleagues killed and they are still traumatized, so it is not a matter we can completely ignore – the truth of the fact is that children must be taught, we cannot continue beyond February without schools properly operating in Northern Kenya, that is part of this republic,” added Ruto.
He said that although they fully understood the teachers complaints, they also were aware of the fact that the children’s right to education was being ignored, an issue that needed redress.
His solution to the problem was in asking the government to surrender the function of security to the counties since other workers working under the County Government had reported to work.
“The Council of Governors requests the National Government to utilize the provisions of Article 187 of the constitution and surrender the function of Education to the County Governments facing security challenges–workers under the County governments in these areas have not stopped working nor failed to report on duty, it appears closer supervision in this case by County Governments gives the workers a sense of comfort that teachers do not enjoy,” said Ruto.
He said while this was affected, the National Government would continue to hold the responsibility as per the constitution, until normalcy returns.
Close to 1,000 public school teachers from Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa Counties have been staging demonstrations in parts of Nairobi, defying orders by their employer, the Teachers Service Commission to report to work.
They are demanding to be transferred or interdicted citing security concerns after the killing of over 60 people last year.