Policy Mandates and Practices in a Federal System: The Case of Oromia National Regional State (Ethiopia)



Federalism is the division of sovereignty between the national and sub-national levels of government. It’s the prime constitutional separation of power, where policy responsibilities are shared among the autonomous agencies, usually between the central and state governments. The rest of policy responsibilities are also allotted to each subdivided separate departments to help maintain checks and balances. While history has it that central governments have ever enjoyed policy monopolies for years, federalism is believed to reverse such privileges in favor of both center and sub-national levels of governance. Ethiopia adopted a federal system of governance since three decades now. The 1995 FDRE Constitution ushered in the country’s transition to a federal system, where two main level governments (federal and states) got policy jurisdiction in the history of the nation. Just like the federal government, the regional states were conferred with policy mandates to formulate and execute economic, social and development strategies. Oromia national regional state is one of the nine federations. Most regional states, Oromia included, also have designed their own constitution which could further explicate the federal policy mandates in view of their real situations. This study attempted to examine the status of policy mandates stipulated in the FDRE and Oromia’s constitutions and their practical implementation in the study state. The study used a descriptive-explanatory approach. Research data were collected from members of Oromia Caffee (Council), legal and professional advisers, and members of the state cabinet using different data collection instruments (questionnaire, interviews and focus group discussions). The findings show that although state policy mandates are known, their translation into real practice have been constrained by factors such as age-old centralized policy perceptions, policy capacity (knowledge and skills) limitations, and related governance modalities put in place. Consequently, most policies are cascaded with little or no significant change from the federal to the study state, while some attempts have been made to design few state-based development policies and strategies. It is recommended that a new policy perception (re-conceptualization) has to be nurtured; policy capacity enhanced; and wider stakeholders’ participation given due emphasis to ensure policy transparency among key actors.

Keywords: federalism; center/state; “Caffee”; policy mandates; policy sovereignty.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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