Third Eye

Tussle between Senate and governors harmful

Friday, September 18th, 2020 00:43 |
Senate Majority whip Irungu Kangata (centre) with senators John Kinyua (left) and Samson Cherargei address the media after the Senate resolved to pass the third generation revenue sharing formula. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The decision by a section of governors to shut down county governments over delayed release of funds has far-reaching ramifications.

They blamed the tussle over the revenue sharing formula at the Senate for paralysis.

Yesterday a number of counties suspended operations in non-essential areas.

One of the affected will be the troubled health sector, with some governors indicating that hospitals will henceforth provide limited admission of the sick and as well as out-patient services.

Some governors released workers who they claimed have not been paid for months.

Other than the reality that the unprecedented move could grind service delivery affecting millions of ordinary Kenyans, the tussle has exposed the dangers of the unhealthy antagonism between the Senate and governors.

The anger the governors’ decision elicited in the Senate was an indicator of the sibling rivalry between the two groups that has continued not only to frustrate devolution, but also defeat the spirit of the 2010 Constitution.

The Supreme law assigns the Senate the role of oversight over county governments.

But the differences over revenue sharing revealed that some of the decisions by senators were driven by political interests as well as frosty relationships with their governors.

Some senators are fierce rivals of county chiefs. The net consequence of the animosity is the near collapse of the counties, which they are supposed to protect.

The 2010 Constitution is clear that various arms of government and critical institutions should work in mutual cooperation.  

Senators and governors have not fared well in this constitutional test. We have witnessed the same suspicions between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.

A supremacy fight between the Executive and the Judiciary has been blamed for the delay in appointment of judges, significantly affecting the administration of justice.

While we understand the cash crunch in counties, we hold the view that the governors should have exercised restraint following indications that the Senate was about to reach a deal on the revenue sharing dispute. 

Indeed, they were represented at a State House meeting bringing together key leaders at which a truce was arrived at ahead of debate by the Senate.

Even as we ask the county governments to reconsider the decision, we ask senators to repair their relationship with governors in public interest.

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