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Policy and Law

Oversight on Devolution; Lessons learned from Kenyan Senators

Kenya embarked on an ambitious transfer of services from the Central government to devolved government system. This is a system that seeks to fundamentally change the relationship between government and citizens under the 2010 Constitution.

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Photo: By Nina Stock on Pixabay

Kenya embarked on an ambitious transfer of services from the Central government to devolved government system. This is a system that seeks to fundamentally change the relationship between government and citizens under the 2010 Constitution.

The Constitution 2010, seeks to shift government from centralized to decentralized, and from, top-down, to bottom-up. Among many reforms, devolution is arguably the most significant. Many countries; both rich and poor, have transferred power and resources to lower levels of government. Few have done so to entirely new sub-national units, or done so in the first year of their existence.

Devolution  has arguably brought services closer to Kenyans. It has demystified governance and power of a government of the people by the people for the people. But, the central role played by the Senate and County Assemblies towards oversight and representation cannot be overemphasized, as enshrined in the constitution of Kenya 2010.

“There have been issues and differences between the National Government, County Governments; between the Senate and the National Assembly, between County Assemblies and County Executives and between County Governments and the Senate,” says Constitutional lawyer Jason Ondabu.

Impeachment Motions

Drawing from the impeachment motions against the Inaugural Governors of Embu County and Makueni Counties, Heated debates on allegations of lack of accountability, competency, Corruption and gross misconduct of governors in dispensing public service were witnessed. The Auditor General and Controller of Budget reports of county finances have raised concern on cases of mismanagement and violation of regulations.

After a landmark supreme Court ruling in January this year, governors are set for grueling battles from their respective county assemblies on impeachment motions. The Supreme Court barred courts from interfering with impeachment processes until they are done.

The supreme Court has now reproached lower courts from interfering into legislative duties of Members of County Assemblies (MCAs), who have a role of oversight to ensure success of devolution. The ruling stems from a protracted legal battle between MCA’s in Embu County versus Embu Governor Martin Wambora who successfully finished his term in office Courtesy of a court order and rulings from High Court to appellate levels in 2014. But, in January 2018, judges Mohamed Ibrahim, Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and Isaac Lenaola quashed the High Court orders that saved Wambora.

The matter had been filed by former Speaker of the Embu County Assembly Justus Mate and the Clerk Jim Kauma. The two contended that courts cannot stop sequential flow of a legislative process that is already defined in its time-frame.

Supreme Court Judges agreed with them saying: “No governmental agency should encumber another to stall the constitutional motions of the other. The best practices from the comparative lesson signal that the judicial organ must practice the greatest care, in determining the merits of each case.”

The Embu County case illuminates the challenges the MCAs and Senators face, in the practicality of playing their role. Speaker Mate argued in court that he had the immunity of the county assembly not to obey a court order from the appellate court that had ruled in favor of Governor Wambora.

Governor Wambora has since been re-elected and serving his second term in office. He is the Chair of the Council of Governors. This leaves fresh questions as to whether the peoples will, was represented while impeaching him.

Senators role in nurturing Devolution remains in the spotlight.

According to Executive Director, International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) Ndung’u Wainaina, implementation of the devolved fiscal policies to give the desired efficiency and effective  services is yet to be achieved.

Timonah Kachu in his Masters study on Public policy and Administration, at Kenyatta University made damning findings.

In the study,  the researcher found out that  the Constitution of Kenya (2010) intended the Senate to serve a key role of representing and protecting the interests of counties and their governments.

“The Senate and County Governments are structured to work together to accomplish various goals of devolution which were seen as the pillar of the Constitution of Kenya. However, there are a number of issues that have undermined the work of the Senate,” says Kachu.

Senate has experienced frequent squabbles between the Senators and Governors, numerous failed attempts for Senate to impeach Governors, court cases pitting the Senate against other institutions like the National assembly and futile efforts to increase County allocations as it was usually vetoed by the National Assembly.

Also, the declaration by various Senators of their intentions to vie as governors or Members of the National assembly in the 2017 general election increased tension between the Senate, Council of Governors and the National assembly. These put the Senate’s role as the guardian angel of devolution in doubt.

The study shows that the practical matters arising under the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 especially the effectiveness of representation and the challenges of the legislative and oversight roles of the Senate have not been fully catered.

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Policy and Law

Elizabeth Angira Wins Economic Justice and Rights Award

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When news reached Elizabeth that she was set to win a coveted award, she was very ecstatic and she could not hide her happiness.

She is a multi media journalist with a Passion on gender issues.

Finally, She was announced the second run up on the story about Economic Justice and Rights Category. The award by African Journalists Gender Equality Awards.

“The stories about gender have not been given more coverage compared to other stories the reason as to why I focus on gender issues, ” She narates.
“Being a woman I fit into the shoes of my fellow women,” said Angira.

She further explained her source of inspiration to do such stories: “I feel so low when I see my fellow women being looked upon or kukandamizwa.’
My journey of journalism has not been an easier, there are ups and downs in this industry,  but, it needs one to be patient, she opined.
Angira said that her  journey in Journalism has not been easy. She thank God having not given up.

Also, the support from her colleagues and family has been invaluable.

“My friend Rosemary Onchari Capital FM has been very supportive to me, what I Iove about her, she usually tells me Elizabeth you can make it, don’t fear I know you have the capability,” she says.

She encourages young upcoming journalist to believe in themselves, no one is perfect.

It’s all about determination, you don’t have to be associated on big media houses, you start from somewhere and progress, even starting writing on social media.

She cited that what kills the passion of many career progress is people who don’t believe in themselves.

She has remained positive saying  that, she keeps trying out even if she fails at doing something. Ms Angira believes that it’s better to try and fail hundred times than never making an attempt.
“I thank my family they have been very supportive to me they encourages me everyday , don’t give up , continue doing your best as long as you don’t quite your profession, ” she stated after the win.

Kwamboka has been winning grants from Media council and AMWIK which enables her to do feature stories

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Education

Egerton University Celebrates Inaugural Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Richard Musangi

Under the leadership of Prof. Musangi, Egerton College experienced tremendous development in the 1980s.

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.Prof. Musangi, who was born in 1934 in Bungoma County, Western Kenya, was the Principal of Egerton College between 1981 and 1987.

The Egerton University community mourns the passing of Prof. Richard S. Musangi and celebrates the University’s connection to this distinguished scholar, educator, and academic administrator.

Prof. Musangi, who was born in 1934 in Bungoma County, Western Kenya, was the Principal of Egerton College between 1981 and 1987.

Upon the elevation of the College to a University in the latter year, he became the inaugural Vice-Chancellor of Egerton University, serving in that capacity until 1992.

Prof. Musangi fondly remembered that his association with Egerton College started in 1961, when, as a final-year Agriculture student at Makerere College, he and his classmates stayed for two nights at the College while touring neighbouring farms. His next encounter with the College was in 1965, when, as a lecturer in Animal Science at Makerere, along with other colleagues, he came to Egerton to examine students for the East African Diploma in Agriculture, which was conducted from Makerere. In 1972, Musangi, as a lecturer in Animal Science at the University of Nairobi, was appointed an external examiner for Egerton College. At about the same time, Musangi joined the Egerton College Board of Governors (BoG) by virtue of being the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Nairobi. Prof. Musangi became the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi in 1979, and it is from that position that he came to Egerton College.      

Under the leadership of Prof. Musangi, Egerton College experienced tremendous development in the 1980s. Prof. Musangi steered the institution through a major United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Government of Kenya-sponsored expansion programme. The actual implementation of the programme was a joint venture between the Egerton authorities and the South East Consortium for International Development (SECID), USA. The programme entailed the development of various forms of infrastructure, counterpart training for Egerton staff, and acquisition of equipment. Promoting research, teaching, and community service, the programme constituted a big leap forward for Egerton. The SECID impact on infrastructure and staff development not only increased the student population from 860 in 1982 to 1526 in the 1986/1987 academic year but also solidified the chances for the eventual upgrading of the College to a fully-fledged University.

Another development at Egerton specifically attributable to Prof. Musangi was the Institutional Development for Agricultural Training (IDAT) programme. The purpose of IDAT was to strengthen and consolidate the activities under the previous expansion programme, which had ended in July 1984. IDAT resulted in additional training opportunities for Egerton staff.

Two new diploma programmes were initiated at Egerton in the 1980s in addition to the fourteen already established. These were Diploma in Food Marketing and Diploma in Forestry. The launching of these programmes demonstrated Egerton’s flexibility and capacity to respond to national and broader needs. By 1980, agricultural marketing had been identified as a hindrance to agricultural development in Kenya. Similarly, the Diploma in Forestry was in line with a new Government approach focussing on rural afforestation for national development.

An expert builder of intricate academic and development networks, internationally respected and connected to numerous donors, Prof. Musangi stimulated unprecedented vibrancy in research, outreach, and related activities at his institution. In particular, Prof. Musangi spearheaded the intensification of Egerton’s outreach programme, which led to the setting up of the Agricultural Resources Centre (ARC). Similarly, under him, Egerton’s collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), which had started in 1975, deepened. This collaboration resulted in joint work in a variety of projects as well as in the establishment of the Crop Management Research and Training Centre (CMRT). Both ARC and CMRT continue to thrive as facilities for training of agricultural professionals at the University.

The establishment of linkages between Egerton College and other institutions owed a great deal to Prof. Musangi’s personal initiative. Besides the institutional linkages between Egerton and the SECID universities, collaborative activities developed between the College and other institutions – especially in research and extension. The linkages expanded as Egerton College became a University.

Concerned about the state of farms around the College, in 1984 Prof. Musangi established an extension project whose aim was to disseminate the knowledge generated at his learning institution to the benefit of farmers in the neighbourhood.

The increased demand for academic staff at the growing institution led to aggressive recruitment in the 1980s. Prof. Musangi travelled overseas to personally meet identified bright postgraduate students to persuade them to join Egerton upon the completion of their studies, and he successfully recruited a number of such staff. By the end of 1985, Egerton College had a faculty of 134 full-time members, 13 of whom had Ph.D. degrees, and 50 had M.Sc. degrees.

Aided by his administration, Prof. Musangi also took significant steps to promote the welfare of staff through such projects as a tenant service scheme, extramural studies, recreation and the Catholic chaplaincy. With foresight and decisiveness, Prof. Musangi abolished the institutional credit system which had made many Egerton employees perpetual debtors. Working closely with the BoG, Prof. Musangi also brought about the development of Kilimo Primary School and Egerton Primary School.

Prof. Musangi was the driving force behind the College’s renewed effort in the early 1980s for its elevation to the status of a University. The push for the introduction of degree programmes at Egerton persuaded the Government to set up the Egerton College Upgrading Committee (the Ayany Committee) in December 1983 to look into the issue. The Ayany Committee submitted its report on 30 April 1984. The Committee was fully satisfied that the College was ready, in terms of both availability of land, and physical and academic infrastructure, to start degree courses.

Subsequently, the Government decided to first upgrade Egerton College to a Constituent College of the University of Nairobi in 1986. It was, therefore, the University of Nairobi Senate which approved the degree programmes for Egerton University College in the following five areas: Animal Production, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Education, Agriculture and Home Economics, and Horticulture.

At the same time, the Senate approved the following four faculties and fifteen departments for the new Egerton University College: Faculty of Agriculture – comprising the Departments of Horticulture, Agronomy (incorporating Crop and Soil Science), Natural Resources (Wildlife, Range Management, and Forestry), Animal Science, Animal Health, Agricultural Engineering, as well as Dairy and Food Science and Technology; Faculty of Agricultural Education and Human Resources – consisting of the Departments of Agricultural Education, Agricultural Extension, as well as Agriculture and Home Economics; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences – having the Departments of Economics, Geography, and Anthropology; and Faculty of Science – comprising the Departments of Biological Sciences (Zoology and Botany) and Physical Sciences (Mathematics, Computer Science, Chemistry, and Physics).

Only a year later, in 1987, Egerton University was established as an independent institution through an Act of Parliament, becoming Kenya’s fourth public university (alongside University of Nairobi, Moi University, and Kenyatta University).

A vibrant and focused Vice-Chancellor, at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s, Prof. Musangi laid a solid foundation for the growth of Egerton as a University, paying equal attention to academics, research, and community service. This was a difficult period for university education in Kenya, when a worsening economic situation in the country and the consequent decline in financial resources allocated by the Government to public universities, coupled with two double intakes of students (in the 1987/1988 and the 1990/1991 academic year), made the functioning of the newly established University challenging.

Prof. Musangi faced the difficulties and ensured growth and stability through an admirable balancing capability. With students, he was a strict disciplinarian, and at the same time he was their best advisor, an inspirer, and an undisputable role model. Sociable and approachable, he gave the impression of working with effortless ease, yet accomplishing all that he set out to do.

Prof. Musangi published widely in the area of Animal Science and Agricultural Education. On leaving Egerton University, he worked as a Consultant to several international organisations and development institutions.

In 2013, President Mwai Kibaki appointed him as the Chancellor of Kabianga University. In his retirement, he spent most of his time within Nakuru County, meeting and socialising with his former students, peers and friends, as well as enjoying the game of golf. Friends enjoyed his generosity and infectious laughter.

Throughout his work at Egerton College and Egerton University, Prof. Musangi exhibited impeccable managerial competence, imaginative initiative, clear vision, strictness, fairness, and unwavering dedication to service.

To the Egerton University Community, Prof. Richard S. Musangi, who died on 27 August 2021, will forever remain a beacon of light.

Writer,  PROF. ISAAC O. KIBWAGE, PhD, HSC AG. VICE-CHANCELLOR

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Opinion

Why Corporates Hardly Invite African Politicians To Their Boards

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By Vincent Ongore

It’s a common practice in Europe and North America (including Canada) that once politicians conclude their tour of duty in active politics, corporations and top academic institutions compete to appoint them as premium board members, high ranking executives and experts. As people who have sat at the apex of society, retired politicians bring to the organization unique perspectives and expertise on legislation and policy making, in addition to networking capability that create enhanced corporate visibility and confidence. Thereafter, they write bestsellers, and make lots of money from them. This trajectory comes with huge responsibilities. First, people go into politics with the intention to serve society in a special way. They compete on the basis of their individual plans that are cascaded from party manifestos. Second, once they get an opportunity to serve, they dedicate their time and intellect to deliver to the electorate based on the promises made to them. Politicians observe very strict code of conduct, and stay clear of entanglements that might create conflicts of interest. In many cases, they resign from or become dormant directors of companies if it’s determined that their continued activity poses the risk of conflict of interest, or might compromise their judgment. In other words, for the duration of service as active politicians, they hardly make much money. They lead normal lifestyle, surrounded mainly by research assistants who strengthen their legislative and policy making capability. On the contrary, in Africa, people go into elective politics to make money. In almost all jurisdictions across Africa, except Rwanda and one or two other countries where leadership codes are being enforced, there’s no strict requirement for disclosure of information that has potential for creating conflict of interest in the work of legislators. This lacuna allows African politicians the latitude to use their offices in furtherance of personal business interests. Although there’s provision for employment of research assistants to support their legislative work, this is seldom prioritized. Legislators hardly attend parliamentary sessions beyond the threshold that guarantees their salary, except when there are matters of great interest to them. In fact, many are the times when parliamentary business is postponed due to lack of quorum in the house. The joyrider attitude of the vast majority of politicians makes it difficult for them to gain any useful legislative or policy making capability that might be transferred to the corporate world once they exit active politics. At the same time, politicians exalt themselves to the apex of society from which position they consider everyone else inferior to them. Their governments reinforce such perception by showering them with mind-boggling perquisites and privileges. They become demi-gods, and easily forget that they hold their positions on behalf of the electorate. They are literally deitified by the electorate. Compared to developed countries, Africa spoils her politicians. In the US, for instance, legislators are simply referred to as Congressmen. In Africa, the emphasis is placed on ‘honorable.’ So, when an African politician fails to re-capture his or her seat, the world literally comes tumbling down. The society has a negative perception of them as people who have stolen from the poor. More often than not, they leave Parliament without much useful knowledge that corporations can tap into to shore up their reputation and profits. Besides, their networks are not reliable as they spend their time in Parliament as corporate marcenaries, intimidating and blackmailing businesses on behalf of competitors. To make it worse, the perception of politicians as lords instead of servants of the people follows them into retirement, thus scaring potential employers. Without the people’s mandate to take them back to Parliament, and in a hostile labor market, ex-politicians face huge frustrations. Unable to lay their hands on any meaningful economic activity, they spend the rest of their active time trying to go back to Parliament. Those who try business often fail miserably because of trying to maintain the opulent lifestyle they were used to as parliamentarians, and also due to the excess baggage of hangers-on who keep urging them to give politics one more shot. Yet, many African politicians are highly qualified professionals whose knowledge and skills are direly needed in public and corporate sectors. I think the society needs to treat ex-politicians better than it currently does. At the center of public management problems in Africa lies the reality that most politicians face a bleak future in retirement. Naturally, they tend to engage in all manner of malfeasance while in office in order to cushion themselves against poverty and frustration in their twilight years. The situation gets so desperate when young professionals get into politics before they establish themselves economically, and within one or two terms, are kicked out by the electorate. They have young families to take care of, and ambitions to pursue, yet no corporates want to touch them even with a ten-foot wooden rod. Perhaps, that explains why African politics is so competitive, and often murky. Political assassinations are common. Politicians want to survive by all means. It has been argued that the not-too-clear future that awaits retired African Presidents is the main reason they tend to manipulate the constitution and electorate so they can extend their welcome at state house. What can the society do to rectify this painful anomaly? I think, the starting point should be to demistify politics and politicians. This can be achieved by embedding proper leadership values in the constitution so that when politicians present themselves for election, they fully understand what the society expects of them. Second, the criteria of remuneration must be made absolutely clear. Third, there must be established a way through which the electorate can evaluate performance of their parliamentary representatives, and provide for a recall clause and mechanism to deal with non-performers. Fourth, there should be developed a pension scheme that deducts a huge chunk of the politicians’ current pay as member contributions to better cushion them against poverty in retirement. That way, they will not struggle to try to go back to Parliament even when the odds against them are obviously insurmountable. Corporates and universities will also have value for them. The society will be much safer as the cases of rent-seeking will significantly go down. Thank you.

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