One of the most debated issues in the proposed constitution is devolution. If the document is passed in the August 4 referendum, Kenya will have two levels of government.
The creation of counties is aimed at decentralising power and resources, and to complement the work of the national or central government.The counties are to also act as checks and balances on the executive as they will elect representatives to the Senate.
Kenya is to be divided into 47 counties based on the districts created by the Districts and Provinces Act of 1992.
In Coast Province, the proposed counties are Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi,Tana River, Lamu and Taita/Taveta.
North Eastern Province has Garissa,Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit while Eastern Province has Isiolo, Meru,Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Kitui, Machakos and Makueni.
The proposed counties in Central Province are Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Kiambu.
Rift Valley will be divided into Turkana,West Pokot, Samburu,Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo/Marakwet, Nandi, Baringo, Laikipia, Nakuru, Narok, Kajiado, Kericho and Bomet.
Western Province will have Kakamega,Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia while Nyanza will have Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties.
Nairobi Province will have one county called Nairobi City.
Each of the devolved governments shall consist of a county assembly and a county executive.
The county assembly consists of members elected by the registered voters of the wards, an unspecified number of special seats to ensure that no gender takes more than two-thirds of the membership.
It will also consist of special seats for marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities and the youth.
The county executive consists of the county governor and the deputy county governor who will be elected directly by the voters.The county governor, with the approval of the assembly, will appoint a sort of `cabinet’ from outside the assembly.
This `cabinet’ should not be more than onethird of the members of the assembly if it has less than 30 members. If the county assembly has more than 30 members then the governor’s appointees should not exceed 10.
The executive committee will be responsible for implementing the county’s and the overall national laws within the county. It may also propose legislation and prepare reports to the assembly on anything relating to the county.
County governments will handle matters relating to agriculture, health services, infrastructure such as roads and street lighting, and social ills among other functions. Since it will be required to handle its own development, the county government can collect levies, and licence and permit fees to raise funds.
However, only the national government can impose income tax, value-added tax, custom duties and excise tax. Under the proposed constitution, counties are to receive 15 per cent of the national revenue and have the power to raise their own funds.
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PS: This article first appeared in the Buzz Magazine inside the Sunday Nation on June 20, 2010. Check out the next article coming Sunday and remember to send your questions and suggestions to the address above.