By Njoroge Kaburo, Robert Manyara and Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's devolved system of government officially began Wednesday with the swearing-in of 47 County Governors across the East African nation.
The new system, under the new Constitution, is geared towards involving the people in governance by giving them chance to actively engage in law making, and also allows better supervision and better implementation of the projects at the grassroots.
Government officials say the constitution, born of the post- election chaos of 2008, and the devolution project embedded in it is a direct attempt to address the underlying causes of that conflict.
The devolved government is meant to defuse the inequities that have undermined national cohesion, and to prevent the concentration (and confiscation) of power by ruling factions.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who attended the inauguration ceremonies of County Governors and their deputies in the three counties in eastern region warned that no one should be allowed to derail the process of devolution.
"Nobody should try to dilute the reality of devolved government which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for," Musyoka said in Machakos, about 60 km east of Nairobi.
He said devolution has ushered in unprecedented freedoms for Kenyans and added that such gains should be guarded jealously. "Kenyans should say no to those who want to embrace devolution half-heartedly," Musyoka said.
The county government includes a county assembly and executive committees led by governors who are directly elected.
The executive administration is charged with the responsibility of exercising executive power, implementing laws for administration of the county as well as carrying out other executive functions of the county.
Members of the county assemblies and a Speaker will have powers to enact laws for effective performance at the county level, act as an oversight instrument on the county executive committee and receive, approve plans and policies for smooth operation and management of resources and county institutions.
Speaking in Naivasha, President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta reassured Kenyans that his Government will ensure devolution is fully implemented.
Kenyatta who reaffirmed that the Jubilee Coalition and its affiliate parties' commitment to the full implementation of the new Constitution said the coalition takes the responsibility of ensuring that citizens receive the benefits of devolution that they aspired for in the Constitution.
"We have an agenda to transform this nation and to fulfill and ensure that we fully implement our new Constitution. A good part is to ensure we effectively implement our devolved government. This is largely not going to be the work of the senate or parliament but of all of us," said when he addressed a retreat for Jubilee Coalition and affiliate parties' elected leaders in Naivasha.
The President-elect acknowledged that there will be teething problems in the implementation of devolution, adding that the responsibility of leaders is not to blame one another but to find solutions to these challenges.
President-elect Kenyatta said he and Deputy President-elect William Ruto are fully committed to ensuring that the Constitution is fully implemented especially with regard to devolution.
"We must never forget why people wanted devolution. People wanted devolution in order to ensure equitable development is availed to every corner of this country and as a means of taking services closer to the people," the President-elect said.
He pointed out that Parliament and the executive have a duty and responsibility to ensure Kenyans achieved the objectives of devolution, saying that the intended goals will be achieved through partnership and not through political bickering and chest- thumping.
Transition Authority chairman Kinuthia Wamwangi who attended the swearing in ceremony in Nairobi said the counties will be entitled to 15 percent of the national revenue.
He called on all Kenyans to familiarize themselves with the working of county governments so that they may benefit fully from them.
"The new two-tier system of government introduces a new threshold for investment through counties and consequently enhances economic growth and services to the citizens," he said.
Kenyans witnessed the much publicized election of speakers to the county assemblies last week while the swearing of governors and their support staff later in the week will herald full operation of county governments.
Wamwangi dispelled fears that there will be confusion in this transition period and emphasized that officials to manage county governments have been well briefed on their duties and responsibilities.
"We have visited all the 47 counties to conduct orientation sessions with the elected county representatives. They are fully briefed on what is expected of their new offices," said Wamwangi.
The Transition Authority has identified offices to be occupied by the representatives of county governments while ministries have started dispatching officials to oversee public services at county level.
Wamwangi reiterated that Kenya aims to carry out devolution that will be a model in the region.
Experts and ordinary Kenyans are upbeat that the east African nation is on the verge of a new beginning as government functions are taken closer to the people.
Many Kenyans have expressed hope that devolution will boost interaction between the government and local communities to address misuse of resources like forests, minerals and wildlife.
They said there will be abundant resources in the 47 counties including sand, honey, coal and limestone and only hope that these counties will have clear plans on how to exploit these resources for the benefit of everyone.