News / Africa

Fighting for Space: Kenya Faces Devolution Challenges

County assembly member Karungo wa Thang'wa meets with constituents at a market outside Nairobi every Tuesday as he waits for the government to pay for an office, Kenya. (G. Joselow/VOA)County assembly member Karungo wa Thang'wa meets with constituents at a market outside Nairobi every Tuesday as he waits for the government to pay for an office, Kenya. (G. Joselow/VOA)
x
County assembly member Karungo wa Thang'wa meets with constituents at a market outside Nairobi every Tuesday as he waits for the government to pay for an office, Kenya. (G. Joselow/VOA)
County assembly member Karungo wa Thang'wa meets with constituents at a market outside Nairobi every Tuesday as he waits for the government to pay for an office, Kenya. (G. Joselow/VOA)
Gabe Joselow
Behind the vegetable and fruit sellers, in a quiet corner of the Kwamaiko market outside Nariobi, Karungo wa Thang’wa sits behind a wooden desk. He’s wearing a suit and a tie; a laptop is open in front of him next to a small sign bearing his name.
 
A line of people are waiting to see him on a Tuesday morning and each takes a turn in a plastic chair next to his desk. “Welcome to my office,” he said.
 
Thang’wa is a member of the Kiambu county assembly, a body created by Kenya’s 2010 constitution as part of a system of devolution, meant to redistribute power and wealth from the central government to the newly-created 47 counties.
 
A former radio announcer, Thang’wa has a flair for performance, although he has set up his desk in a market stall out of necessity.
 
“I decided to come to this market every Tuesday because one thing,” he says. “I don’t have an office.”

Paying the Rent
 
Thang’wa is caught up in a nationwide power dispute between county assemblies and the central government.
 
Governors, who took office last month, have boycotted opening sessions because of disagreements about pay, grinding to a halt local legislative activities before they could even begin.
 
Thang’wa said the government should pay for his new office, but the head of a transitional authority set up to smooth the devolution rollout has said that is not the case.
 
Ekuru Aukot, one of the lead architects of the constitution, said a lot of local representatives may be exaggerating what they should get from the government, though he said Thang’wa does have a point.
 
“In a way the guy is right,” he said. “Because he’s not really expected to work under a tree, I mean this is really simple logic.”
 
Who’s in charge?

Aukot said devolution first started going off track when former president Mwai Kibaki appointed County Commissioners to coordinate between the county assemblies and the national government. Governors saw the appointments as a direct challenge to their authority and unconstitutional interference from Nairobi in county affairs.
 
Aukot says governors and county assemblies are wrongly being treated as if they are just managers there to distribute resources as instructed by the central government.
 
“Let the governor be the CEO of the county and therefore make determinations as to how the county is being run, but in collaboration with the central government,” he said.
 
Meantime, back at the Kwamaiko market, Thang’wa had just finished talking with Naomi Njeri, who came to seek help paying for her deaf daughter to attend school.
 
She said that while she appreciated the representative meeting people in the market, she thinks it would be better if he had an office.
 
“He’s a big man,” she said. “And the market is only a place for things to be bought and sold.”

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More