Minister and governors need to work together

Friday January 8 2016


Newly-appointed Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has reached out to governors, pledging to work with them to ensure the smooth implementation of the county system.

Coming against a backdrop of mistrust and tension between the central and county governments, this is encouraging.

Governors have been wary of several actions by the government, which were seen as intended to cripple their operations.

These include delay in disbursing funds and the haphazard handling of some county-based functions such as health care.

To demonstrate goodwill, the government must expeditiously deal with the issues that have wrought conflict and devise effective means of resolving the financial challenges that counties perennially face.

Even so, it was telling that the governors have not embraced the minister fully.

In particular, they have rejected the minister’s proposal for the extension of the term of office of the Transition Authority, which has been overseeing the transition to the county system, ostensibly because the agency has been seen as a barrier rather than a catalyst for devolution.

The role of the Transition Authority was to manage the shift from national to county-based government and to guide the process of managing and sharing the assets that were previously held by the defunct local authorities.

In pursuit of its mandate, the authority has on occasion tended to railroad the counties instead of working with them to resolve conflicting issues.

Thus far, it is noted that the authority has accomplished 65 per cent of its mandate, which means that work remains to be done.

A more sober discussion is required to agree on the fate of the authority.

Broadly, though, the principle that should guide the relationship between the Devolution Ministry and the county governments is mutual respect and pursuit of common interest.

Mr Kiunjuri must engage the governors more and facilitate their operations.