Third Eye

Rein in officials killing devolution

Friday, September 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa addresses the press in a past briefing. Photo/PD/FILE

Devolution is easily touted as one of the hallmarks of the 2010 Constitution. It was meant to cure a governance system in which resources were centralised and allocated by a heavily politicised and whimsical Executive.

Public resources were dispersed as a reward for political loyalty or held as a punishment for regions perceived to be opposed to the government of the day.

The personalisation of resource distribution is blamed for the marginalisation of certain parts of the country for political considerations.

Political power was tightly tied to resource allocation. This partly explains why communities fought hard to have one of their own in power.

But with the advent of devolution, counties have been receiving their equitable share of the national cake through an agreed formula regardless of their political leanings. 

The spirit of devolution was transformation of lives at the grassroots and access to services to the ordinary folk.

There have been heart-warming stories on expansion of roads, hospitals and bursary schemes that have enabled children from poor backgrounds to access education.

We however continue to be disturbed by reports on wanton corruption and misuse of funds by public officials in counties working in cahoots with their relatives and business allies.

For some county officials, devolution has provided a virgin ground for primitive accumulation of wealth through corruption and deceit.

A number of county officials--including governors-- are under prosecution for corruption and misuse of office.

We are shocked by the case in Nyamira county in which nearly a thousand workers were awarded illegal promotions, reaping hundreds of millions of shillings in form of salaries.

The effect of this is that cash that could have been used to offer wananchi essential services went into the pockets of unscrupulous workers.

In some cases, workers through a dark scheme got themselves promoted more than twice in the same year with the aim of ballooning their pay.

Nearly 150 employees were promoted twice in less than three years.  The dubious promotions were done through computers with no evidence of documentation. 

Such obscene action should not go unpunished. It is criminal conduct that strikes at the very essence of devolution which is provision of public goods to the people. 

The unfortunate situation is that the Nyamira case could be replicated in other counties but abetted to protect vested interests.

We call for more audits to weed out State officials stealing devolved funds.

More on Third Eye