STUDENT: CHRIS MUGO NDIRANGU
Reform agenda in Kenya, committees, parties involved and previous practices
Reforms are about bringing positive change in any country or administration. It’s about becoming better through the removal of false and error or by correcting malpractice, especially of a moral and social kind. Reforms are about enhancing value and qualities. In Kenya various reforms have been initiated particularly with the adoption of a new constitution in 2010. Various committees and parties have been involved in the reform agenda.
The following then are some of the reforms initiated in Kenya.
Measures to Curb Corruption
According to Transparency International corruption index of 2013 Kenya ranked number 136 out of 177 in the world. This indicates the high level of corruption in the country. Indeed corruption is endemic to Kenya. It has contributed to wastage and misuse of national resources. Thus the new constitution has a number of provisions to allow for stronger checks and balances to curb corruption. Generally the constitution ensures the supremacy of parliament where parliament scrutinizes the executive to ensure it does not abuse its mandate and also scrutinizing state finances. This ensures no wastage or loss of funds occurs through corruption.
Other than parliament the constitution provides for a commission that will work to curb corruption in government. The establishment of this commission is key in Kenya’s reform agenda. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has since been established and given the following functions under the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, 2011. Some of the functions include:
- Ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the provisions of the Constitution in relation to ethics, integrity and anti-corruption
- Develop and promote standards and best practices in ethics, integrity and anti-corruption
- Receive complaints on allegations of breach of the ethical principles or code of conduct by a public officer
- Investigate and prosecute any acts of corruption
- Recommend appropriate action to be taken against public officers alleged to have engaged in unethical conduct
- Develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat corruption and economic crime
- Promote ethics and ethical conduct among public officers, the private sector and the public in general.
Decentralization of Government
This arguably is the biggest reform initiated by the constitution. This is the ceding of power and autonomy by national governments to the counties. The constitution devolves power closer to the people at the grassroots. This diffuses political power and avoids on group or ethnic community from dominating the country by winning national elections throughout. Thus preventing political violence as witnessed in the 2007/2008. The constitutions allows for the following:
- Establishment of counties that replace the previous administrative units of provinces and districts.
- Creation of 47 counties where each county has an executive committee led by a governor and a deputy governor elected for a maximum of two terms
- Creation of county assemblies composed of elected members.
- Devolution of health services, infrastructure among other functions from the national government to the county government. The county governments are also empowered to impose levies and permit fees to support its development needs.
The reform agenda of devolution or decentralization of the Government is intended to achieve the following political, social and economic goals by:
- Enhancing the principles of democracy
- Bringing power closer to the people and increase public participation in policy-making
- Enable greater responsiveness to the needs and opportunities for people at the grassroots level
- Establish new hubs of economic growth away from the capital city
- Promote equitable development across the country
In ensuring smooth transition of national government functions to county government a County Transitional Authority has been formed under the Transition to Devolved Government Act, 2011. The main function of the authority shall be to facilitate a coordinated transition to county governments. Other functions include:
- Facilitate comprehensive and effective transfer as provided for under the constitution
- Oversee transfer of assets, liabilities and staff of national governments and local authorities to county governments
- Carry out an audit of the existing assets and infrastructure of the national government and local authorities with respect to devolved functions
- Develop and implement training programmes for county government staff
- Resolve disputes over transition issues between the nation and land county governments
Women rights and marginalised groups
This is one of the major issues in Kenya’s reform agenda over the past decade. Women rights groups and marginalised groups have pushed for reforms that would allow for greater participation and recognition in the running of affairs in the country. This is especially in government political sphere.
The major reforms regarding women are entrenched in the new constitution. According to (Mugambi, 2010) the purpose of these constitutional gains on the side of women are to preserve their dignity and to promote social justice. The constitution ; ensures that women are able to pass on citizenship to their children regardless of whether they are married to Kenyans or not, eliminates gender discrimination in relation to land and property. The greatest provision in relation to women and of major significance is that the constitution provides that a one third requirement for either gender in elective bodies. This translates to women occupying at least 1/3 in elective institutions. This rule has a major shortcoming as citizens cannot be forced to elect women in order to achieve the gender threshold. The constitution also provides for the election of women representatives for each county who shall sit in parliament.
Marginalised groups have also benefitted from the reforms being initiated in government. These marginalised groups include youth, marginalised communities and the disabled. The constitution provides that for the nomination of members of this group into parliament and county assemblies. The youth have also benefitted from the creation of funds that will enable them to set up businesses and earn income. An example of this is the creation of the Uwezo fund. The government has also formulated a policy of awarding contracts and tenders to youth groups and women. The policy states that 30% of the contracts and tenders shall be awarded to women and the youth.
The Kenyan government has been characterized with long bureaucratic procedures, inefficiency, lack of accountability which translates to high levels of corruption and wastage of resources. This results into poor economic performance. The government has however been adopting measures to change the common bad practices. This government hopes will change the perception and attitude towards government in service delivery. The government has thus initiated reforms in the public sector to gain public confidence both locally and internationally. Key to this reforms is performance contracting.
Performance contracting is a mechanism under the public sector reforms that aims at improving performance of the Public sector through setting clear objectives. It involves setting simple, measurable, accurate, realistic and time-bound targets. Specifying agent performance in terms of results and assigning accountability for those results, increasing transparency and accountability in public institutions, establishing clear reporting, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of the projects.
Performance contracting is done on a quarterly basis. At the end of every quarter, government institutions submit their quarterly reports and finally annual report to relevant agency. Feedbacks then are sent to the government institutions for improvements.
The first procedure in performance contracting process is target formulation. The government institution sets targets based on the following indicators; financial, service delivery, non-financial, operational and dynamics. A work-plan/ implementation schedule based on its departmental plans is formulated. The plan indicates with activities hoped to be accomplished in the contract year. The second procedure is Negotiations. The targets set are negotiated on the basis of available resources, time frame and relevancy to existing policy documents. The third is vetting. The targets in this stage are looked at again. The fourth stage is signing. The contract is signed by the relevant heads of the institution and the monitoring agency. This shows commitment by both parties towards the attainment of the set targets. The fifth stage is implementation. The government institutions implement their agreed contracts and work towards achieving the set targets within the specified time frame. The sixth and final stage is reporting. The reporting is done on a quarterly basis which culminates in an annual report to the relevant reporting authorities.
Performance contracting is important because of the following reasons;
- Helps in fast tracking existing plans in a government institution and a countries strategic plan example Kenya’s vision 2030
- Proper coordination of projects is achieved through the development of intense monitoring and evaluation system so as to achieve the set target
- Setting of higher targets in every contract period leads to improvement in efficiency.
- Public servants have the opportunity to be recognised thus motivates them to perform
- Performance contracting has led to the emergence of a competitive Public Service which enhances their growth and development.
Mugambi, M. (2010, March 28). Constitutional Gains for Kenyan Women. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from Academia.edu: www.academia.edu
Constitution of Kenya.2010
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, 2011.
Transition to Devolved Government Act, 2011.
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