Lobby faults CoG for defending governors facing graft charges


By BRIAN OKINDA
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A lobby group has faulted the Council of Governors (CoG) for defending its members who are facing corruption charges.

The Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) has warned that CoG risks becoming irrelevant if it continues to protect and defend “wayward governors in the pretext of defending devolution”.

CSRG maintained that the council must refrain from the clichéd and often stereotyped narrative that anyone seeking to hold county governments to account is undermining devolution.

“Defending corrupt governors blindly is not one of the reasons for which the CoG was established under Section 19 of the Inter-Governmental Relations Act, No 2 of 2012.

“The function of the CoG, as outlined by the law, is to serve as a platform [for] sharing information on the performance of the counties in the execution of their functions, promote learning and sharing of best practices and, where necessary, promote best practices in the management of public affairs for service delivery and build the capacity of governors and county governments so that they can deliver effectively on their mandate,” said the Presiding Convener of the CSRG Suba Churchill.

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Mr Churchill said it now seems that the CoG has misconstrued those functions and allowed itself to be hijacked by some governors to undermine efforts to fight corruption which undermines the objectives of devolution.

Kenyans, he said, demanded a devolved system of government in the Constitution but the fact that they believe in the potential and promise of devolution to change their lives must not be turned into an excuse “by thieving governors and their apologists” to silence those engaged in sincere efforts to expose and fight corruption in the counties by claiming that they are undermining devolution.

Mr Churchill said that some governors have hijacked and undermined the idea behind devolution and turned it into a pursuit for their personal gain, “yet the CoG expects Kenyans to tolerate this”.

“Recent statements and actions by the CoG seem to suggest that devolution is about massaging the egos of individual governors and allowing them to mismanage county resources with impunity. That is not why Kenyans [promulgated] the Constitution in 2010 with a devolved system of government,” said Mr Churchill.

The CoG recently said it will move to court to demand that governors facing criminal charges are allowed to continue serving until their cases are heard and determined.

It indicated that it will challenge a ruling requiring governors to step aside once charged with wrongdoing.

On July 24, Justice Mumbi Ngugi locked Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu out of his office after he was charged with corruption.

The same fate befell Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal and Nairobi’s Mike Sonko.

Mr Churchill said that the CoG should demand that county governments establish platforms for citizen participation as outlined in Section 91 of the County Governments Act, adding that more than six years after the devolved system of governance was established, only a few counties have come up with county budget and economic forums (CBEFs) as required under Section 137 of the Public Finance and Management Act.

Others are also yet to establish county communication frameworks as required, to facilitate public communication and access to information by citizens through the media.

“But the CoG has never commented on these failures which would have ensured accountable exercise of power by its members. Instead of establishing these platforms as public institutions, some governors do so as their private investments doing business with the county governments that they lead. These are the issues that should concern CoG, not defending its larcenous members,” Mr Churchill said.


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