Devolution: Inclusive Governance and Economic Transformation

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Devolution: Inclusive Governance and Economic Transformation

Deliberations with Mr. Patrick Karanja on the impact of Devolution to inclusive governance and whether it leads to economic transformation.

“Devolution is different from Delegation.”

We have just concluded the Third Episode of the Devolution Series focusing on Inclusive Governance and Economic Transformation looking at Kenya, which is in the 6th year after devolving.

Mr. Patrick Karanja who was our guest is the acting Director for Intergovernmental Relations in the Ministry of Devolution, Kenya. His mandate in the Ministry is to facilitate harmonious relations between the National and County Governments. Karanja was also a member of the Task Force that Developed the five Devolution Laws.

In the conversation hosted by Trevor Ncube, (In Conversation with Trevor), Karanja walked us through the important aspects of devolving and the impact of devolution to communities and whether devolving results in the economic growth of especially the marginalised communities.

Karanja made it clear that devolution is not an easy thing as it means sharing power and resources which he said is uncommon for most African governments. Karanja pointed out that just having the concept of devolution in the constitution is not enough as the constitutional provisions should be accompanied by enabling acts that truly lead to a devolved state.

Karanja noted that devolution leads to economic transformation. He said, “It is now six years after devolution in Kenya and most people can attest that the development they have witnessed in the past six years far outweighs the development that had happened since independence until the country devolved.”

He explained that devolution could transform political culture as even the counties that are in the hands of the opposition in Kenya work very well with the central government to achieve development. He noted, “In Kenya, you can never tell which party runs which county unless you are told.” He said in their governance of the different counties, leaders serve their communities and are not political when discharging their duties and this is something we are yearning for in Zimbabwe.

Karanja also said it was important to ensure that devolution gets accepted by all parties. He believes devolution does not mean that taxpayers will be overburdened and explained that if done properly a devolved state will have its citizens paying the same taxes as before devolution but have their taxes used to develop their communities.

In his lessons for Zimbabwe, Karanja emphasized the need to have devolution accepted by all, need for clarity on the recourses devolved provinces will get from the national purse, ensure that functions of central and devolved governments are clear and continuous capacity building for the devolved provinces. Karanja also told Zimbabwe that accountability is very key in ensuring the economic transformation of communities and said without it, there could be the misuse of resources, which will defeat the objectives of devolving.

For those that fear devolution could lead to a fragmented state, Karanja advised that while devolving it is important to ensure that while provinces become autonomous from the central government the country should remain unitary and said Kenya had remained one despite the challenges in the beginning.

ZimRights is thankful for the brilliant insights and sharing of experience by Mr. Karanja and hopes policymakers will tap into this conversation and ensure that indeed devolution in Zimbabwe brings change especially to the marginalized communities and populations. We remain indebted to Trevor Ncube and the AMH group for hosting these important conversations that matter. We thank the Embassy of Switzerland in Zimbabwe for making it possible to bring great minds to the devolution conversation.

You can watch the whole program on ZimRights LIVE Facebook Page here¬if_id=1599727173606816¬if_t=live_video

Do not miss our conversation next week when we host H.E. Mr. Niculin Jäger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia as he unpacks how Switzerland managed to create equity, authentic participation, and direct democracy.

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