Nairobi, Tuesday May 20, 2014.../ TheInternational Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) is deeply concerned with the continuous affront to the Constitution by the Executive.
The ICPC sees the latest move by the President to arm county commissioners with more powers as an impediment to the effective implementation of the devolved system of governance which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for during the national referendum in August, 2010. This move will create unnecessary conflicts and confusion between the county Governors, who are the Chief Executives of the Counties, and the County Commissioners. The move also threatens the independence of the National Civil Service and the National Police Service, which were shielded from political interference by the New Constitution, 2010.
The Committee of Experts who drafted the New Constitution envisaged the total overhaul of the Provincial Administration through a mechanism that accords and respects the new Constitution. Kenyans wanted the devolved governance that would be accountable to them completely. The drafters of the Constitution also separated the national Civil Service, the National Security System, the Judiciary and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) to be independent of the political control that was prevalent in the old constitutional dispensation, in order to eliminate conflicts of interests.
The restructuring of the Provincial Administration was done to accord and respect the devolved system of governance. The restructuring was a leeway for the absorption of the effective and accountable administrative officers of the Provincial Administration into the new constitutional dispensation (Devolution), which rendered the Provincial Administration obsolete.
The National Civil Service is independent of political control and the Public Service Commission has the authority of a body corporate. The National Police Service is designated a single authority, the Inspector General of Police (IGP). The IGP has security of tenure, and all the police officers and police chiefs in the bureaucracy are only answerable to him.
The recent move by the president to empower the County Commissioners is reminiscent of the old order of Provincial Administration, which had three main functions:
(i) arbitration (acted as magistrates village councils),
(ii) maintaining law and order and general law enforcement (through the Administration Police); and
(iii) Administering taxes (e.g. liquor licensing and tax collection).
There is therefore an urgent need for facilitative mechanisms to aid in the harmonious implementation of the functions assigned to each of the two levels of government, without, in practice, undermining the authority of any of them, which is evident with the existence of county commissioners. The ICPC therefore recommends that:
First, at the County level, there should be the positions of Technical Advisors to the national government, who will be recruited by the Office of the Cabinet Affairs through a competitive process. Each ministry shall be represented by one technical advisor at the county level (18 technical advisors at each county).The office of the technical advisor will be facilitated with policy, operations, administration and personnel, legal affairs and budgeting resources. The technical advisor in charge of education for instance, will be the link between the county government’s department of education and the national government’s department of education. The technical advisor will oversee the smooth running and implementation of the national educational policy at the county level through coordination and liaison with the Teachers Service Commission and the county’s education department. The technical advisors shall report to the Office of Cabinet Affairs.
Secondly, at the national level, an Inter-Governmental Affairs Office with fully fledged staff should be created under the office of the President. This office will receive briefs directly from the technical advisors in the counties or through the office of the Cabinet affairs on various issues and transmit the same information to the President. If the Intergovernmental affairs office wants to communicate matters of policy to the technical advisors, it will do so through the office of the cabinet affairs. The technical advisors at the county level will advise both the intergovernmental affairs office and the office of the cabinet affairs.
Ndung’u Wainaina, E.D