In what ways is the current devolved system of government in Kenya different or similar to Majimbo system of government at independence?

  • Lucas Love
  • 5th December 2019
  • Comments Off on In what ways is the current devolved system of government in Kenya different or similar to Majimbo system of government at independence?
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The 1963 Constitution introduced a government structure made up of 8 provinces which are: Nyanza Province, Coast Province, Rift Valley Province, North Eastern Province, Eastern Province, Nairobi Province, Central Province and Western Province.  

Majimbo or regionalism was a decentralized form of government which was adopted by Kenya at independence.  The system divided Kenya into eight (8) regions. On the other hand devolved form of government divided Kenya into 47 counties.

The head of administrative units or regions was initially called presidents under majimbo, this was later changed through reforms to chairmen. Under devolved form of government, the Governor is in charge of a county government.

In both Majimbo and devolved form of government, the country was divided into smaller units for effective public administration and to better reach out to the people.

Under majimbo and devolved form of government, power was delegated to the regions with the objective of protecting the minority communities.

In both majimbo and devolved government, the central government is charge.

The president heads the central government in both majimbo and the current devolved form of government.

The heads of the regions were referred to as chairmen and were appointed by the President during majimbo form of government. In comparison, under devolution the governors are elected by the people resident in each county.

The majimbo governments aimed at representing the minorities while the devolved form of government was established in order to bring services closer to the people.

Under Majimbo system of government, there were only two political parties. That is Kenya African National Union (KANU) which was the ruling party and Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). In comparison, under devolution there is multi-party democracy which means that there are numerous political parties for people to choose from.

In terms of gender representation in politics and governance, under the regionalism there was no affirmative action. On the other hand, there is a two-third gender rule which dictates that not more than two-third of the elected or nominated leaders should be of the same gender.

The national government oversees the distribution of resources in both the Majimbo and the devolved form of government.

According to Katiba Institute et al (2015) Public Administration was at the center of colonial administration. Under the short-lived majimbo system of government, the central government was to discharge its functions through regional authorities. This was to effectively do away with provincial administration.  The then president Jomo Kenyatta and his allies were against this form of government. Hence, within one year independence they made reforms and strengthen the provincial administration. Under devolved form of government, power, resources and administration was devolved to the 47 counties. The Provincial administration was weakened and just remained to handle security matters at the county level. The District commissioner is now referred to as the County Commissioner. The Provincial Commissioner is known as the regional commissioner and is in charge of several counties which for the region.

The 1963 Constitution established unicameral legislative structures. This means that there were two chambers of parliament. That is the House of Representatives and the Senate. Under devolution, the legislature is made up of the National Assembly and the Senate.

At Independence, the Senate was made up of 41 Senators who were elected in accordance with the 1963 Constitution. Kenya was divided into 40 districts and the Nairobi Area. Each district and the Nairobi Area elected one Senator. In the devolved form of government, the Senate is made up of 47 elected Senators. Each Senator is elected by the electorate in each of the counties.

The House of Representatives was made up of elected members in accordance to the 1963 Constitution.

 The Electoral Commission was chaired by the Speaker of the Senate after independence. Currently the IEBC is headed by an independent chairperson who is not the speaker of the Senate.

References

Government of Kenya (2010). The Constitution of Kenya. Government Press. Nairobi

Katiba Institute et al (2015). Understanding Devolution. Color print Ltd.

Hope, K. R. (2012). The political economy of development in Kenya. New York: Continuum International Pub. Group.

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Lucas Love

Lucas Love is a staff writer covering human interest stories on kerosi.com. You can email me on: lovelucas@kerosi.com

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