Governor Waiguru Speaks of Devolution in Kenya at Chatham House UK

H.E. Governor Anne Waiguru at Chatham House

The Council of Governor Vice Chair earlier today shared about Kenya’s devolved system which she said was brought into being to include those previously excluded.

She commended the move of Kenya gaining a new constitution and instantaneously the country creating 47 counties to enhance what could be called ‘Project One   2010, terming it as no small feat.

The former Devolution and Planning CS added that the first few years of devolution have not been easy explaining that the beginning was faced with contestation not only between central and devolved government, but also within county governments over mandates and functions.

One of the three first women governors in Kenya went ahead to affirm that the current government remains committed to making devolution work in Kenya.

“Central government assistance to counties has included capacity building, developing model laws, and conducting institutional reviews to ensure skills matched to mandates.” She asserted.

The governor professed her desire to see more women running for the position during the next general elections. She even hinted to them one way to get support from male governors which she alluded as to target those who will have completed two terms and can’t run again.

The Kirinyaga County chief however highlighted an issue with early endorsement for women which leads to them being exposed to a long and vicious time in the spotlight.

From her experience while running for governor as a woman she claimed to have faced many challenges.

“At the same time, I knew that my campaign would have a wider significance for Kenyan women and girls, who have traditionally been marginalised in politics,” she expressed her reason for pressing on.

The first-time governor voiced her hope regarding women’s rights in Kenya saying the country is on the right track, despite lagging behind other countries in East Africa on women’s representation including Rwanda and Tanzania

H.E Waiguru did not forget to make a note on corruption which seems to be the country’s greatest enemy as she was quoted saying:

“Regarding accountability, a danger is that the fight against corruption becomes politicised and used by individuals to harm their enemies. Structures to ensure accountability in Kenya remain weak but the new constitution was a key step forward”.

She also emphasized on the importance of social media as a key tool in the fight for greater transparency and called for civic education to enable citizen demand government’s accountability observing that county governments are already engaging strongly on this matter

Despite being against the move last year, she welcomed lifestyle audit called for by President Uhuru tagging it as a big step forward. She sees pressure from families that want to benefit from their relative’s time in office as the drivers to corruption describing it as the reason why the president has rightly opted for the audit.

Natasha Kimani, an Academy Fellow, shared her research on gender and devolution which focused on 5 counties in Kenya: Kisumu, Kirinyaga, Nairobi, Kajiado and Mombasa

Reiterating Waiguru’s words earlier, she said that Kenya’s constitution is very gender responsive but a constitution is only as good as its implementation.

“More must be done regarding gender responsive budgeting. There needs to be an understanding that many things – infrastructure, healthcare etc. – impact differently on men & women, & county budgets have an important role to play in ensuring gender equality,” Natasha concluded.Source: Chatham House Africa