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Opinion & Analysis

Media has critical role in promoting devolution agenda

  A farmer samples her withered maize in Embu County. Media must assist by setting the agenda that will ensure that county governments focus on key relevant deliverables. FILE PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NMG
A farmer samples her withered maize in Embu County. Media must assist by setting the agenda that will ensure that county governments focus on key relevant deliverables. FILE PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NMG  

With the end of the first term of county governments, it’s important that the media moves away from focusing on individuals, sideshows and mundane issues in devolution that characterised the first term. It must focus why the country needs a devolved government and keep tracking the process.

With revelations that billions of shillings meant for counties still lie idle, the media has a huge responsibility to remain vigilant by monitoring implementation of devolution projects and development expenditure.

There is a feeling that the media hasn’t performed well with regard to devolution, that the devolved units are yet to delivery services sufficiently and effectively.

Much more public education, civic education and public participation is urgently required if Kenyans expect to hold the county governments and assemblies to account.

Increased and indepth coverage of the county governments and assemblies by the media is essential if citizens are to hold county authorities to account for the services promised.

The high number of governors and members of the county assemblies who were voted out during the General Election is a clear a sign that voters were not satisfied with their performance.

Media must assist by setting the agenda that will ensure that county governments focus on key relevant deliverables, not posturing for a national audience.

It’s important for the media to highlight the intent and history of devolution and the many attempts towards decentralising governance and service delivery.

We must interrogate, together with institutions like the Senate, controller of budget and other players the use of funds meant for development by the counties and the law making process and oversight by the county assemblies.

Many governors have already hinted that they will commission audits of the first four years of county governments, but why can’t they start with the existing audit reports by the auditor-general.

A number are already on a staff sacking spree oblivious of the labour laws and legal pitfalls they are dragging their governments into.

Were such expenses planned for? Policy formulation including revenue collection, attracting investments and provision of social services are key, and media can help a lot if it focused on this.

By looking at the budgets developed by the county governments, the media would enable citizens see if what is being planned is economically relevant to them.

In addition to holding the county governments accountable just like they are doing with the national government, the media should maintain vigilance on the performance of the Senate and county assemblies.

There is need to strengthen the county government departments of communication to improve information flow.

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