Me­dia has crit­i­cal role in pro­mot­ing de­vo­lu­tion agenda

Business Daily (Kenya) - - EDITORIAL & OPINION - VIC­TOR BWIRE works at the Me­dia Coun­cil of Kenya as pro­grammes man­ager

With the end of the first term of county gov­ern­ments, it’s im­por­tant that the me­dia moves away from fo­cus­ing on in­di­vid­u­als, sideshows and mun­dane is­sues in de­vo­lu­tion that char­ac­terised the first term. It must fo­cus why the coun­try needs a de­volved gov­ern­ment and keep track­ing the process.

With rev­e­la­tions that bil­lions of shillings meant for coun­ties still lie idle, the me­dia has a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­main vig­i­lant by mon­i­tor­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of de­vo­lu­tion projects and devel­op­ment ex­pen­di­ture.

There is a feel­ing that the me­dia hasn’t per­formed well with re­gard to de­vo­lu­tion, that the de­volved units are yet to de­liv­ery ser­vices suf­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively.

Much more pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, civic ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion is ur­gently re­quired if Kenyans ex­pect to hold the county gov­ern­ments and as­sem­blies to ac­count.

In­creased and indepth cov­er­age of the county gov­ern­ments and as­sem­blies by the me­dia is es­sen­tial if cit­i­zens are to hold county au­thor­i­ties to ac­count for the ser­vices promised.

The high num­ber of gover­nors and mem­bers of the county as­sem­blies who were voted out dur­ing the Gen­eral Elec­tion is a clear a sign that vot­ers were not sat­is­fied with their per­for­mance.

Me­dia must as­sist by set­ting the agenda that will en­sure that county gov­ern­ments fo­cus on key rel­e­vant de­liv­er­ables, not pos­tur­ing for a na­tional au­di­ence. It’s im­por­tant for the me­dia to high­light the in­tent and his­tory of de­vo­lu­tion and the many at­tempts to­wards de­cen­tral­is­ing gover­nance and ser­vice de­liv­ery. We must in­ter­ro­gate, to­gether with in­sti­tu­tions like the Se­nate, con­troller of bud­get and other play­ers the use of funds meant for devel­op­ment by the coun­ties and the law mak­ing process and over­sight by the county as­sem­blies.

Many gover­nors have al­ready hinted that they will com­mis­sion au­dits of the first four years of county gov­ern­ments, but why can’t they start with the ex­ist­ing au­dit re­ports by the au­di­tor­gen­eral.

A num­ber are al­ready on a staff sack­ing spree obliv­i­ous of the labour laws and le­gal pit­falls they are drag­ging their gov­ern­ments into. Were such ex­penses planned for? Pol­icy for­mu­la­tion in­clud­ing rev­enue col­lec­tion, at­tract­ing in­vest­ments and pro­vi­sion of so­cial ser­vices are key, and me­dia can help a lot if it fo­cused on this.

By look­ing at the bud­gets de­vel­oped by the county gov­ern­ments, the me­dia would en­able cit­i­zens see if what is be­ing planned is eco­nom­i­cally rel­e­vant to them.

In ad­di­tion to hold­ing the county gov­ern­ments ac­count­able just like they are do­ing with the na­tional gov­ern­ment, the me­dia should main­tain vig­i­lance on the per­for­mance of the Se­nate and county as­sem­blies.

There is need to strengthen the county gov­ern­ment depart­ments of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to im­prove in­for­ma­tion flow.

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