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Constitutional Referendum Part V (Devolution)

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on the proposed new constitution that was sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The forum was free and open to the publc. The workshop focused on 6 thematic areas of the new constitution – Representation, Women’s Issues, Devolution, Land and Natural Resources, Media, Executive Powers and Youth. The aim of the workshop was to look at the Wako draft in light of what the different stakeholder (I hate this word but you can’t avoid it) groups involved in Bomas wanted and in light of the current constitution. What follows are some notes I took at the workshop.

The speaker who presented on devolution noted that devolution was a “hot” issue in Bomas for the following reasons (so hot was the issue that many believe it was the reason behind Dr. Mbai’s murder, click here for a good op-ed on Mbai and his role at Bomas).

– Concern about fair and equitable distribution of natural resources
– A desire to ensure participation of people in their governance at a local level
– To ensure transparency and accountability of government

Among the problems with the current provincial administration – lack of clarity regarding functions, lack of independence from central government and lack of accountability. The section on devolution is one of the sections that those in the “No” camp point to as fatally flawed and against the wishes of Bomas.

What follows is the cribbed-from-FES -list of relevant provisions relating to devolution in the 3 constitutions.

Bomas Draft.

– There was to be devolved government with 3 levels of devolution. The Senate was the link between the devolved governments and the national government in national law and policy-making.
– Extensive provision for a devolved government (Chapter 14)
– 3 levels of devolution (regions, districts, locations)
– Establishment of the Senate as a link to regional governments.
– National government would not have been able to suspend the district or other regional overnment .

Current Constitution

– The current constitution establishes a unitary state. Local governments are established under statute and the provincial administration. coordinates implementation of government programmes at provincial, district and lower levels – right up to the village.
– The only mention of local governments is in the sections relating to trust lands.
– Local governments established under an Act of Parliament but the relationship is pretty much that of a horse and rider.
– Provincial administration not provided for in the constitution but is an ever-present phenomenon at the local level, with a history of repression and other ills

Kilifi/Wako Draft

– There will be devolved government with one level of devolution (districts). There is no Senate, but a National Forum for District Government ments whose utility is questionable.
– Government can suspend district government.

2 comments to Constitutional Referendum Part V (Devolution)

  • bankelele

    How many more of these posts do you have? I finally got a copy of the new constitution a few weeks ago and it’s a difficult confusing read.

    One more on the youth. Will try and have more stuff lined up next week if possible. It is unwieldy isn’t? I thought a lot of the stuff in there was better suited for legislation.

  • lilalia

    Please go and read today’s article in the NYT and spread the important news:

    “Pierre M. Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife, Pamela, gave $100 million to Tufts University this week, with some unusual strings attached.
    The gift, the largest Tufts has ever received, must be invested in organizations that make small loans to poor people in developing countries, a field known as microfinance. Further, Tufts may use only half the income from the investments for itself; the rest must be reinvested in microfinance.“
    Link to full article:


    It would be important for organisations such as in this posting to try and receive support for the business and educational programs they are doing.

    Good luck!