Deputy governors in Kenya have been lying idle for far too long and they are not happy about their sorry situation.
To fix this, they have demanded changes in the law that will give them reasonable powers in the devolved units.
In an interview with Citizen TV, the Deputy Governors’ Forum Chairperson Caroline Karugu said their aim is to be “ministers (county executive committee members) and leaders of government business in the regional assemblies”.
“We’re not saying ‘increase our salaries’. We just want to give back to the people. Actually, we will save money if we are made deputy governors ministers and have the money that would have gone to a minister go to development,” Dr Karugu said in an interview with Citizen TV.
No clear role
Other than deputising the governor, Chapter 11 of the Constitution gives them no clear executive role.
“The choice of whether or not a deputy governor becomes a member of the executive is solely the governor’s decision. They’ve the powers to fire the deputy from the post (executive),” Narok deputy governor Evelyn Aruasa said in a previous interview.
Deputy governors also want their roles defined in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“The deputy governor is the deputy chief executive of the county and shall deputise for the governor in the execution of the governor’s functions, and that the governor shall assign the deputy governor a portfolio as a member of the county executive committee… The deputy governor shall represent the county executive committee in the county assembly during the executive’s question and answer session,” they told the BBI Steering Committee led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.
In case of death
Deputy governors automatically take over from their bosses for the remainder of their terms in case of death, impeachment, or incapacitation.
“We need to ensure that even as we look at deputy governors in terms of a contingency, continuity plan, how then do we make sure that wananchi get value for the taxes they pay. We need to ask ourselves: Do you then pay someone Sh740, 000 per month just as a contingency plan?” posed Dr Karugu.
In case the office of the deputy governor falls vacant, they want governors to appoint a replacement within 30 days.
County Governments (Amendment) Bill of 2017, recently assented into law, spells out that governors will now have to nominate a candidate for deputy within 14 days of a vacancy in the office.
“If the governor fails to do so, the Speaker of the Assembly, with the approval of the Assembly, should proceed to nominate a deputy governor,” they said.