Devolution dilemma after TA exit

Monday March 28 2016

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar addresses the press at his office in Kizingo, Mombasa County, on March 22, 2016. Senator Omar has opposed a plan to create a body that will take over the responsibilities of the defunct Transition Authority. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar addresses the press at his office in Kizingo, Mombasa County, on March 22, 2016. Senator Omar has opposed a plan to create a body that will take over the responsibilities of the defunct Transition Authority. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Senators have opposed the government’s plans to create a body to replace the defunct Transition Authority, less than a month after refusing to extend the authority’s term.

The proposed body, which will be tax-funded, will take over all the functions, assets and liabilities of the TA.

TA members left office on March 4 after serving for three years, leaving a load of work to the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee under the Ministry of Public Service and Devolution.

But it has since emerged that the existing law does not allow the committee to replace it.

The ministry wants to amend the Intergovernmental Relations Act to form the Intergovernmental Relations Authority to take over from the TA.

The Intergovernmental Relations (amendment) Bill given the Senate Committee on Devolved Government, chaired by Bomet Senator Wilfred Lesan, last week wants the new authority to take over everything left behind by the TA.

However, senators have expressed their opposition to the plans. They said it will not make sense to send an established, independent team home then turn around and form a new one to perform similar roles.

“What you are taking over are residual functions of TA, not all the functions,” said Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan, a member of the House team. “You are proposing a similar authority as the TA.

“We cannot be in a state of perpetual transition to devolution. We must ensure at some point transition is over and county governments are fully functional.”

The senators said the technical committee, chaired by former Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi, should have informed them of the anticipated challenges before the TA was sent home.

The TA, which was chaired by Kinuthia Wamwangi, pushed for an extension before its term expired, saying it had substantial work pending, but the National Assembly gave them a deaf ear.

Senators agreed to a three-year extension but, since the final say lay with the National Assembly, MPs overruled the senators, saying most of the transition work had been done.

“When we were pushing out TA, I kept asking about the alternatives that we had,” said Senate Majority Whip Beatrice Elachi, a member of the House team. “I told TA, ‘you are leaving but are going to have problems’.

“Before we consider this Bill, we would like to get a report from the Summit showing us how they planned transition after TA.”

The Summit is comprises the President, the Deputy President and the Council of Governors.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, who had initially agreed to give the TA one more year, changed his mind last month. 

The Transition to Devolved Government Act, which established the TA and outlined most of the authority’s work, expired on the same day as the authority and can therefore not be used by Mr Mutahi’s technical committee.

“Some of the challenges we have faced is the lack of a legal backing to issue a moratorium on the assets,” said Ms Allyce Esintele, a member of the technical committee.

However, Devolution PS Mwanamaka Mabruki said they were waiting for a comprehensive report from the defunct authority by April 1 before allocating funds for the new roles.