How the re-elected governors made it back

Friday August 18 2017

Re-election rate for high development spending governors stands at 75 per cent.

The monotony of mediocrity should be broken at every democratic election. Credible elections upset the status quo.

Who won the recently concluded general election? The IEBC declared a winner for the presidential race and the matter has been challenged in court.

The Supreme Court will have the final say.


But, who really won? Devolution did. The great winner of the recently concluded general election was devolution.

In this piece, I want to make a brief analysis on the relationship between development and governance.

Is there a correlation between development spending and the durability of county governors following the Kenyan 2017 general election?

Did spending more on development give county governors a higher chance of re-election than those whose governments focussed on satisfying an ever-growing wage bill?


The Controller of Budget compared the counties’ wage bill and development spending. The chart below compares the counties’ development spending to wage bill spending.

Counties appearing on the left of the ref line spent less than 30 per cent on development while the few on the right spent more than 40 per cent, with some like Turkana and Wajir investing more than 50 per on development.

Most counties appear as clusters to the left of the chart, meaning that most of them spend less on development and a lot (40 per or more) on the wage bill.


In a World Bank report, Decision Time: Spend More or Spend Smart, it was found that the inflated wage bills of most counties were preventing them from achieving their development spending thresholds.

Some counties spend up to 80 per cent on the wage bill and as little as 5 per cent on development.

Most counties were unable to meet their development spending thresholds.

Only Wajir, Turkana, Bomet and Machakos surpassed their development targets while Murang’a, Homa Bay, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Kisii, Nyamira, Kwale and Kakamega operated just at the development threshold.

This leads us to a key question: Does a development-oriented budgetary plan translate into a public perception of good governance leading to re-election of the incumbent county governor?


Is the re-election of a county governor pegged on his or her developmental records?

The re-election rate for high development spending governors stands at 75 per cent while the general re-election rate for governors in the country stood at 47 per cent.

Could this glaring 28 per cent difference possibly reflect the public’s priorities while choosing county governments?

The attrition rate for governors in the country in last August’s election was 53 per cent while that of the development oriented governors was 25 per cent.


The difference is glaring. Could it mean that most factors such as politics held constant, county governments that spend on development are much likely to receive a positive public perception?

Does development spending give governors an edge among their constituents, compared to their counterparts whose money goes into satisfying the wage bill or other recurrent expenditure?

It seems so. However, economics alone does not do the trick.

There are also political and social considerations.

Governors should learn from Wajir, Baringo and Bomet, where high development spending did not secure re-election.


Definitely, this is an interesting correlation that ought to be studied further.

It is clear that leadership brings about a rare mixture of maths and humanity: the math to know how to account for each day at the helm of a people, and the humanity to inspire others by one’s own example.

Dan Beerens puts it well when he writes:

“Leadership is not about speed, ideas, efficiency, or power . . .

It is about knowing your own limitations and celebrating the gifts of others.

It is growing in wisdom, understanding the number of our days, and seeking to understand rather than be understood.

It is caring for people, always hoping for, and expecting the best.

It is being brave enough to be vulnerable in front of others.

It is seeing the big picture of where things are, and building a road to the future with limited casualties.

It is helping each person to sing their song from the heart, and leading the band in praise to their Maker.”