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Presidency, governors on the spot over devolution

Tuesday March 25 2014

PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | FILE Transition Authority chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi addresses participants during a national conference on devolution in Nairobi on September 2, 2013.

PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | FILE Transition Authority chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi addresses participants during a national conference on devolution in Nairobi on September 2, 2013. NATION MEDIA GROUP

NATION REPORTER
By NATION REPORTER
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A summit that brings together the presidency and governors has been accused of turning constitutional principles upside down in the first year of devolution.

In a presentation to the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, Transition Authority (TA) chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi said the Treasury was wrong in transferring funds to county governments when their capacity to fulfil the functions devolved to them was in doubt.

He said the transfer of funds before the authority moved the functions “basically turned the constitutional principle of ‘resources follow functions’ upside down”.

Mr Wamwangi said their earlier resistance due to misgivings regarding existing capacity in counties had to give way to pleas to avert a major service delivery crisis because the Treasury had already allocated the funds.

The authority particularly criticised the summit for directing the functions to be transferred to the counties en masse. The summit came up with this decision during a meeting at State House on June 19.

This was despite an assessment by the authority that established that no county was ready to handle the functions.

“Attempts by the TA chairman to caution the summit about the capacity in the counties were brushed aside and he was literally motioned to take his seat. It turned out that he had ostensibly been invited to be issued with the directive,” says the authority in its report.

Mr Wamwangi made the submissions to the constitutional implementation committee as the authority took its plea to MPs to shelve a plan to disband it contained in the second volume of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill.

The Bill proposes to replace the authority with the Intergovernmental Technical Relations Committee.

Mr Wamwangi told the committee that if the authority was disbanded, devolution would likely lose direction.

He said Parliament’s oversight role would also be undermined when the committee takes over.

But members of the constitutional implementation committee criticised the authority, saying it had not done much since it was formed.