Majority of Kenyans have expressed their support for devolution despite their dissatisfaction with the performance of governors and members of county assemblies (MCAs).
An opinion poll by Ipsos found that 78 per cent of Kenyans support the devolved units, a growth of nearly 10 per cent from last year.
“This represents a considerable increase since last September, when such support was expressed by only two-thirds (69 per cent) of all respondents,” said the poll report.
Governors and MCAs, however, continue to be rated poorly indicating that while Kenyans have support for the devolution system, they don’t trust the leaders to deliver.
Only 21 per cent have complete confidence in the county chiefs, 44 per cent have some confidence while 33 per cent of Kenyans have no confidence in governors.
The situation is nearly similar for MCAs with roughly the same confidence-distributions levels seen, at 20 per cent, 38 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
“A conclusion suggested by the above findings is that much of the support for devolution as a governance concept or blueprint constitutes future promise rather than observed performance,” the report adds.
The pollsters suggest that the continued overwhelming support for devolution despite perceived underperformance may be tied to a negative history associated with the centralised form of government.
“Is this puzzle a reflection of the fact that Kenyans have had such an ‘unpleasant history’ with central state power that they will continue to support devolution in general despite its performance failures?”
The wage debate is also featuring prominently with a lot of Kenyans feeling that the most pressing Constitutional changes should be the reduction of elected officials (13 per cent) and limits on salaries and benefits for senior government officials (11 per cent).
The poll also found that while 90 per cent of Kenyans support the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), they are split evenly over who should administer it between the Members of Parliament and county governments.