I have spent the last one week in Nairobi studying the system that Kenya uses to distribute revenue.
Usuku MP Peter Ogwang, a commissioner at parliament, led nine of us to Kenya to specifically learn how their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) works.
Through the Division of Revenue Act, Kenya has institutionalized the sharing of national revenue. Under this act, for example, government is required to allocate not less than 2.5 per cent of its budget to the development of its 290 constituencies.
To prevent legislators from patronizing the Fund, a constituency office with functional committees is established in addition to a national independent board overseeing it, which sits at Nairobi.
We visited Kajiado constituency, one hour’s drive from Nairobi, and some of the projects constructed using the Constituency Fund are impressive.
Each constituency is allocated Ksh 100m (approximately Shs 3.1 billion) annually. There is also a formula and percentage of how much money is allocated to every county (federal states).
These are the sort of things we meant when we were demanding for federalism. We were dismissed as chauvinists who wanted Baganda elevated above everybody else.
The good thing is that Kenyans have been waving placards at their recent opposition rallies with inscriptions: “Kenya is not Uganda.” I think by embracing federalism, nobody will accuse Kikuyu, Luo or any other nationality in Kenya of chauvinism.
The truth is that Kenya doesn’t suffer from what Prof Apolo Robin Nsibambi used to call presidentalism. The formula of sharing revenue in Kenya is statutory. Delegations don’t have to visit State House for a few classroom blocks, police posts, scholarships or some medical equipment.
And it is not that Kenya doesn’t suffer third-world problems; they do, but I sense some willingness to sort them out institutionally.
While there last week, Kenyan parliament was conducting public interviews (hearings) for the post of attorney general.
The attorney general, chief justice, inspector general of police, chairman electoral commission and several other offices in Kenya are not by appointment. Adverts are published and interested persons apply for them.
This is what is slowly helping Kenya to fight patronage. You will, for example, not have a military colonel appointed deputy inspector general of police when there are clearly more deserving and qualified police officers. The Ugandan fellow (new deputy IGP) admitted during his vetting that he was going to learn on the job.
It is the Kenyan kind of recruitment that is giving officers freedom to exercise their independence and a fair degree of professionalism. Not surprising that Kenya became the first country in Africa to have its presidential elections annulled because of noncompliance with the law.
Our system offers protection to people who have been appointed to certain offices, especially in the judiciary. The recruitment is highly manipulated, but you are protected thereafter.
That is why I don’t believe in absolving individuals holding these offices from their statutory and professional responsibility. It is the reason I joined colleagues in filing a petition in the Constitutional court challenging the constitutionality of the recently-enacted Constitution (Amendment) Act commonly known as the age limit act.
I would have been hesitant to petition court if Steven Kavuma was still its head, but still I would have done so, at least for the record. Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo is not operating entirely in an influence-free environment, but he owes it to the country.
I am not naïve to think that Owiny-Dollo will perform miracles, but he can help lay a new foundation for the Supreme court and Court of Appeal. There was a time when the Constitutional court was the pride of the country when the likes of Amos Twinomujuni and Stella Arach were judges there.
Of course Mr Museveni, after losing several cases, vowed to sort the judicially and, with the appointment of Kavuma, not only did he sort it, but he totally disorganised it.
As Christians remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend, Owiny-Dollo has a perfect opportunity to think about resurrecting the court from Kavuma’s grave. Otherwise, soon we will no longer waste time filing petitions.
And mind you, we are not the only players. There are people who are as impatient as Museveni was in the 1980s. For them, they will not waste time with court; they may seek to resolve these issues the Museveni way.
Therefore, as we go to the High court in Mbale on April 4, it is not only the age limit amendment that will be on trial, but court as well.
First, as a person who filed a petition, I have not understood why court casually decided to shift the hearing to that place.
Court of Appeal doesn’t have office premises in Mbale; isn’t this a window to waste taxpayers’ money? I hope there will be no extra cost to the judiciary. Being law-abiding citizens, we will drive to Mbale and I hope it will be worth it.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.