Kenya’s devolution implementation: emerging issues in the relationship between senate and county governments
Tensions have arisen in Kenya’s devolved system between the Senate - the body representing the sub-national units at the national level and the county governors. The magnitude of the problem is such that it has motivated a publisher in Nairobi, to ‘capture the moment’ by way of a comic book. This is in a bid to fathom the nature and cause of the problem in a fun way for the public good, and to seek to find solutions to the volatile relations. These conflicts threaten to rock Kenya’s nascent devolved system. As figure 1.1 below demonstrates, there is almost a boxing match between the senator and governor. In such an antagonistic atmosphere, realising the full fruits of devolution would become a nearly impossible mission. In first cartoon, the two ‘titans,’ a governor and senator, are seen in a boxing ring ready to take on each other. The senator is portrayed as an enraged aggressor, eager to strike, while the exasperated governor appears to be more on the defensive. Mr Knowings, a neutral character and the narrator of the comic book stands between them, ostensibly as a referee. The second cartoon portrays the senator in a more casual carefree manner, almost like a rogue, holding what could be money in his hands, perhaps an indication of the power that the Senate wields over the county government finances and its oversight role. The governor, on the other hand, is depicted as a smartly dressed, more sober individual, with documents tucked beneath his arms and holding what appears to be a pen in one hand, ostensibly ready to fulfil his executive functions. In the subsequent discussions, this depiction falls into place when the roles of the governor and senator are examined and the causes of the conflicts analysed. Similar to the Mr Knowings, this research study seeks to explore, albeit on a more serious note, the nature and causes of these conflicts, what the law provides concerning the relationship between senators and governors and how the conflicts can be avoided or resolved. Who, if at all, is the ‘bad guy’ here? This study sets to find out.