Governors, deputies wars bad for growth

Wednesday, May 31st, 2023 01:05 | By
Governors, deputies wars bad for growth
Siaya Governor James Orengo. PHOTO/Courtesy.

The onset of devolution about 13 years ago has thrown up a lot of frictions between governors and their deputies in a way that has stalled development in the polity and largely denied the people of the dividends of decentralised governance.

The political class and framers of the 2010 Constitution are obviously worried about this trend and indeed it should be worrying to well-meaning Kenyans. The fact that there is need for cordial working relationship between the two main pilots of the devolved units is in no doubt.

Barely eight months after being sworn into office together, political wrangles are already simmering in many counties over alleged suspicions, sabotage, corruption and political mischiefs.

In some cases, alleged disregard of pre-election pacts, including sharing of key appointments, clan interests and wheeler-dealings have been cited as the factors fuelling the never-ending power struggle between governors and their deputies.

Public spats in Siaya, Kericho, Meru and Baringo, plus silence disquiet in many other counties augment the belief among Kenyans that a number of governors and their deputies are pulling in different directions. The incessant feuds in the devolved units...which deputy governors have over the years claimed to be largely because of being ignored in the running of counties, calls for the need for Parliament to review the County Governments Act to clearly define the distinctive roles and mandates of the deputies.

Apart from stipulating that deputy governors are the principal assistants of their bosses; the 2010 Constitution does not clearly state what roles and functions they should do or the decisions they can make while in office.  As a result of the void in law, the deputy governor’s seat has remained a poisoned chalice since the onset of devolution, with those occupying the office either being kicked out before end of their terms or being tossed around like flower girls.

On Monday, Members of the Siaya County Assembly allied to governor James Orengo unanimously voted in favour of a motion seeking to impeach his deputy William Oduol over gross misconduct and allegedly sabotaging his boss. Whether the allegations against Oduol are true or false is neither here nor there at the moment. The elephant in the room is the question of the poor working relationship between governors and their deputies.

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