The promulgation of the constitution in 2010 is undeniably one of the most celebrated event by a majority of Kenyans that the books of history have recorded. It was a landmark event that managed to unify Kenyans amidst increasingly ethnic divisions in the 21st Century. The constitution promised to deliver Kenyans from the shackles of marginalization through a devolved system of governance hence this was largely the motivation behind the massive support for the constitution and its subsequent promulgation. A system that accords every citizen an opportunity to exercise their power through voting leaders of their choice at the grassroots, a system that facilitates transfer of power and resources to the counties where the local people can be able to determine how such resources are used to develop their localities.
Two years down the lane since devolution was actualized, Kenyans have a lot of experiences to share regarding what has since happened viz-a-viz what they had hoped for. One of the milestones made so far is the passage of the prerequisite Acts that facilitate operationalization or actualization of the structures including the county government Act among others. The various structures are already up and running including the county public service boards, the county assemblies among others. County Integrated Development plans have already been developed and approved in most of the counties. Most of the devolved functions have already been transferred to the counties as stipulated in the Transition to Devolved Government Act. In this regard, most services have been brought closer to the citizens. A considerable amount of progress has also been realized in terms of development projects in the counties. It’s worth mentioning that devolution has created massive employment opportunities for Kenyans through the county public service boards, in fact to some extent the urban centres have experienced decongestion because most of the professionals who were initially working there have since landed jobs and moved to the counties.
A host of challenges however have continued to rock devolution hence impeding the full realization of the actual and tangible benefits that a common Kenyan expected out of devolution. Whilst the constitution requires meaningful public participation in all county processes, most Kenyans are a disillusioned lot because county governments have implemented policies, projects or initiatives without sufficient input from the public. The authorities have been blamed for failure to provide timely information regarding forums on public participation.
Some counties are currently in some sort of a standoff because of emerging wrangles pitting various sections within the structure. Cases of County Assemblies impeaching Governors and Speakers for a myriad of allegations have been very prominent over this period. Embu, Kisumu counties are just examples of such cases. Deputy Governors on the other have at some point ganged up against their bosses. Members of County Executive Committees have not been spared either. The Senate and the National Assembly have differed sharply as well on a number of issues regarding devolution. Narok County is for instance currently in a stalemate as the Members of Parliament and the Governor face off in an ordeal that has really threatened security and stability of the county.
A lot of the multi ethnic counties are facing the threat to ethnic/clan/tribal conflicts. Some counties have contravened the constitutional provision requiring that not more than 1/3 of county employees should be of one tribe. Nepotism, clanism and tribalism have featured prominently in the allocation of employment opportunities in the counties. On the other hand there are struggles among ethnic communities over who should control the resources available in the counties hence threatening peaceful coexistence among such communities.
All this leaves the once expectant Kenyan, a disappointed lot. However, the teething problems are just an opportunity for us to derive critical lessons that should help us strategize on how to get over to Canaan.