By Kiratu Kamunya
County commissioners are finally down to the serious business of co-ordinating government’s security and administrative operations at the county level. This is of course against the background of gross misapprehension on the way their redeployment to their current positions was carried out.
There are even reports about how a section of political operatives is planning to block their remuneration while making calls to counties not to recognise the officials! It is encouraging that such misinformed stunts have largely fallen on deaf ears! Kenyans are alive to the critical government’s mandate in providing them with adequate security and their vulnerability in its absence.
Debate has been raging on whether their appointment was constitutional, need for consultations between the President and the Prime Minister, and whether their appointment was in tandem with the principles of regional and gender balance, representation of youth, disabled and public participation
Whereas debate is necessary in interrogating government functions from day to day, political intrigues should not obscure the legal and legitimate architecture on which the appointments were anchored! It is important to bring the public up to speed with the crux of the matter by separating wheat from the chaff to snatch the debate from the jaws of sectarian political undertones.
For starters, redeployment of county commissioners did not involve major constitutional appointments in the manner contemplated by the National Accord and Reconciliation Act of constitutional office holders for which the two principals have to hold consultations. Indeed, appointment of administrative officials in the provinces has been the reserve of the president with the advice of the relevant ministry.
Section 17 of the 6th schedule to the Constitution talks about the national government restructuring the provincial administration to accord with and respect the county governments.
Restructuring of the provincial administration does not amount to making the holders of the restructured organ constitutional office holders! This misunderstanding of the constitution is largely the genesis of the ensuing debate.
The Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution voiced its advisory opinion along the line of whether we have a national government as yet ostensibly because according to the commission county governments are yet to be established. From their argument, the debate is therefore not one of whether there were consultations on the issue of appointments or not!
The Constitution created the 47 counties upon its promulgation and this is the basis upon which the Commission for Revenue Allocation has been evaluating its budgetary allocations etc.
On the issue of gender balance, the youth and the disabled, it is important to point out that the commissioners were redeployed from existing structures. In their day-to-day management of public administration functions, these officials undergo rigorous training and orientation with public administration in order to equip them with the necessary skills to handle delicate security situations and public affairs.
As such, redeployment could only have taken place from serving officials. This is not to underrate the need for adequate representation of all interest groups especially the youth and the disabled while striking gender and regional balance.