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Jubilee courting county leaders to undermine devolution, claims Raila Odinga

By Patrick Beja | Published Mon, July 1st 2013 at 00:00, Updated June 30th 2013 at 23:28 GMT +3
CORD leader Raila Odinga (right) with former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka during the minority coalition’s governors and senators’ retreat at a Mombasa hotel Sunday. [Photo: Omondi Onyango/Standard]

By Patrick Beja

Mombasa, Kenya: Three top Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders Sunday claimed the Jubilee Government was courting governors to support programmes that undermine devolution.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, however, told CORD governors and senators to remain firm and focus on the opposition coalition’s agenda to ensure devolution is strengthened.

Raila led a strategic forum with coalition governors and senators at a Mombasa hotel in preparation for the 2017 polls where he told the Jubilee government to pay teachers the disputed perks.

Raila dismissed the allocation of billions of shillings for laptops for young children, saying Jubilee should get its priorities right as the funds were going down the drain.

He insisted Information and Communication Technology education should begin with setting up computer laboratories in each school and introducing a crash training programme for teachers for the plan to succeed.

“If they give laptop computers to young children, they could lose them to other people on the way to school. It is like climbing a tree from the top and the money will have gone down the drain,” Raila warned.

He observed that the Government had lost Sh9 billion in the procurement of biometric voter registration kits in a similar fashion and that the gadgets never worked.

Provision of education

He also called for constitutional amendments to place the provision of education under counties instead of the national Government to speed up development.

At the same time, Raila took issue with the national Government for retaining county commissioners, insisting this was being done for ‘fear of the unknown’ and could kill devolution.

Raila insisted county commissioners and district commissioners were a parallel administrative system and duplication in government that would interfere with the work of governors.

“If I were president I would make governors the representatives of the national Government because they are elected and are directly answerable to the people. To secure devolution, governors and senators must work hand in hand,” advised Raila.

He said provincial administrators had not made any election pledges and can be transferred and even promoted once they mess up in one station.  The leaders warned governors against been enticed with ‘sweeteners’ by the Jubilee Government like diplomatic passports and special number plates for vehicles.

“Don’t be cheated with sweeteners. When the deal is too good, think twice. Governors and senators should demand that funding to county governments be increased from 15 per cent to 40 per cent of the budget,” Kalonzo said, adding devolution would only succeed if such units are allocated adequate resources.

Kalonzo claimed The National Alliance (TNA) party was frustrating CORD candidate for the Makueni Senate seat, Ms Kethi Kilonzo, because she had critical information about election fraud in the past poll.

“Kethi is a registered voter and voted in Lang’ata constituency. She has so much information about election fraud and I can understand why TNA is already frustrating this lady. But she is going to double the number of votes for her father,” Kalonzo said.

Wetangula said CORD should remain the pacesetter for the devolution agenda and use a “tyranny of brain” to become a shinning champion of development while Jubilee relied on its tyranny of numbers.

“The agenda of devolution and development must be set by CORD. We must remain proactive,” he said.