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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid