Contribution of County assemblies to enhancing devolved governance: A case of kwale County assembly , Kenya
Mwatsavwa, Saidi Kassim
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The democratic system of governance has been touted as the best because it gives citizens more voice and control over the running of their countries. As countries continued to grow and develop politically, socially and economically, groups that were historically denied power now demanded it. As much as there was some form of resistance by some central governments, it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore and resist these demands and such governments eventually yielded to the demands of these groups. Centralized systems of governance began giving way to decentralization of governance in some countries across the world. Like the national government, the devolved units of governance must be kept in check so that powers and resources at their disposal are never misused or abused. In Kenya, besides the Senate and accompanying legislations and policies, the success of devolved governance has been pegged on County Assemblies, the immediate watchdog of the activities of the County Governments. In this study, the research sets out to answer the general question, how effective are county assemblies in enhancing devolved governance? The specific objectives of this study were; to determine strategies used by the county assembly in enhancing devolved governance in Kwale County, to analyse efficacy of the strategies employed by the county assembly in enhancing devolved governance in Kwale County and to explore challenges faced by the county assembly in enhancing devolved governance in Kwale County. The findings of the study are envisaged to contribute to policies on devolution of governance in Kenya and other parts of the world as well as contributing to the existing field of knowledge. This research study targeted Kwale County only. Agency theory, one of the major theories used in Corporate Governance, guided this research study. In this study descriptive research design was employed. A mix of probability and non-probability sampling was used in selecting survey participants. Regarding data collection tools, interview schedules and questionnaires were used to collect data from the field. Throughout the process of conducting the research, the researcher observed various ethical guidelines to ensure that any laws or codes of ethics are not breached. The study established that despite the various challenges, the county assemblies are an essential cog in the wheel when it comes to devolved governance. These institutions play an important role, such as ensuring that the devolved resources are availed to the people and that the residents of the county are actively involved in governance of the county. Main strategies employed by the county assembly to enhance devolved governance are public participation forums, cooperation to hold the county government to account through cross-party support and formal legal competences. These strategies were found to be largely effective in driving the county government to share resources equitably in their respective counties and to avail services closer to the residents among other objectives of devolution. However, the assembly has faced impediments such as political interference both from within and outside the county, resource inadequacy and low literacy levels all of which, to varying degrees, have the overall performance of the county assembly in entrenching devolution at the grassroots level. The researcher of this paper also recommends that MCAs work closely with the county government to address cases of corruption which lead to pilferage of public funds. It is also recommended that MCAs and other relevant agencies should formulate and implement regulatory instruments to protect MCAs from improper political interference.
Africa Nazarene University