Sneaking in a new Bill?

The implementation of the new constitution has so far not been as easy and immediate as many had anticipated it would be. Many Bills have come up with a good number having been made into law already. It is critical that the public takes a keen interest in these large numbers of bills as they pass through parliament's floor.

Currently there is a bill that is believed to have been drafted by the office of the president to restructure the administration in line with the provisions of article 17 of the sixth schedule in the constitution. The bill is not yet public but it has been noted that the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) were not consulted or involved in any way in the entire drafting process.

A quick read of article 17 of the sixth schedule, reveals that such restructuring is allowed only " accord with and respect the system of devolved government". The new bill is said to retain district commissioners and create the title of county commissioners who would chair the National Government Services Delivery Committee. These committees are to operate at the county level and district level and are to be answerable to the national government.

However there also exists a County Governments Bill. This one provides for a sub-county administrator and a county ward administrator who are appointed by the governor and the county public service commission. The main difference between the structures is that one is answerable to the national government and the other to the county government.

Now, before someone starts screaming "anti-reform!" it is important to take the whole issue into perspective. The matter of devolution tends to be quite tricky especially since Kenyans are about to get their first taste of it. Big question here is; where do national government responsibilities end and where do those of the county governments begin? In order for the national government to perform its task, it needs to have representatives on the ground. The national government is part and parcel, if not the most important part of the system of devolved government. It needs to have enough hold on the counties without interfering with the operations of their administration.

There is of course the issue of consultation among the concerned parties since this is what has been causing delay with several bills. They need to come up with a mechanism for correlation rather than having two laws that will ultimately contradict each other. This will eventually be for the good of Kenya as service delivery will be brought much closer to the citizens, which is basically what this whole devolution thing is about.

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