Is National Government a Threat to Devolved System of Governance in Kenya?

Doreen Nekesa Busolo, Samuel Ngigi


This paper addresses the ways through which the national government of Kenya has proved to be a threat to devolution. Challenges emanating from national government actions are hampering the implementation of devolution. Devolution was intended to bring services closer to the people and promote public participation in decision-making. Transfer of functions from the national government to county governments and resource allocation to counties as provided for in the constitution 2010 is core to the implementation of devolution. Public participation permitted communities to manage their own affairs and further their development agenda. The minority and marginalized communities are recognized and protected through a devolved system of government as provided for in Article 174 of the constitution. The issue of inequality which was strongly practiced by the centralized system of governanceshouldbe addressed through devolution. There has been the development of national laws and policies other than devolution laws that were developed on the onset of the devolved system of governance. These laws affected the implementation of devolution. Budget Policy Statement according to the National Treasury (2013) is to accelerate economic growth by sustaining macroeconomic stability; focusing on economic policies and structural reforms; and deepening investment in critical economic infrastructure. The BPS is published under Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act. However, the national budget policy statement is framed in a manner they encroach county functions mandates. Judiciary has the important role of giving effect to the constitutional provisions on devolution; however, the independence of the judiciary is threatened by political quarters affecting its function in the implementation of devolution. Commissions and independent offices whose collective responsibility to facilitate the achievement of devolution is impaired due to underfunding. Poor intergovernmental consultations are affecting devolution in the sense that plans to undertake Nairobi City County functions without due process and intergovernmental agreements are infringing on the Intergovernmental Relations Act, 2012. Above these challenges, the national government has enacted laws to reduce the power of independent institutions, direct intimidation, and incapacitation through budgetary cuts.

DOI: 10.7176/PPAR/10-7-05

Publication date:July 31st 2020


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