The Treasury wants to scuttle Devolution. Devolution is a central issue in the election in the next few weeks. Over two-thirds of Kenyans voted for it in the Referendum. It is a corrective to our bad past and an assurance of a better future.
It is now part of the Constitution and is about to be implemented. This is why we are electing officers for the 47 Counties - Governors, County Representatives, Women Representatives and Senators. These thousands of candidates and offices are Devolution in operation.
Now we hear the Treasury wants to scuttle Devolution. This information was given last week by no less an authority than the Chair of the Commission for Revenue Allocation, Mr. Micah Cheserem, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya.
"Speaking at a meeting with the House Budget Committee also attended by the Finance Minister Njeru Githae and his technocrats, Mr Cheserem said the Treasury had failed to adopt a formula approved by Parliament for making allocations to the counties. If the Treasury behaves the way it is doing now, we'll not have county governments." (Daily Nation, 9 January 2013). And the hopes of all these thousands of candidates and their election itself will be frustrated.
How is the Treasury doing this scuttling? Instead of allocating the constitutionally arrived at formula of KShs.30 billion passed also by Parliament for each of the 47 counties, the Treasury has allocated only KShs.6.8 billion and then another KShs.2bn.
Mr. Cheserem warned that if the formula is not followed, "wait for a crisis." He specified who was doing it. He identified them as the civil servants at the Treasury "who often 'misled' [the Minister]." These senior civil servants are disobeying and ignoring both the Constitution and Parliament. They are also mocking President Kibaki's assurance that 95% of our expenditure is being met from our own revenue.
Scuttling Devolution is unconstitutional. These civil servants in the Treasury are acting in defiance of the Constitution. Their actions have a direct political purpose. It is to keep power within the hands of the small wealthy elite of which they themselves are also a part.
These Treasury civil servants and others helping them, are in direct contravention of Art.10 of our new Constitution, by which they are bound to the national value and principle of governance of "sharing and devolution of power." (Art.10(2)(a)).
They get their arrogance and impunity from current political godfathers and from our past. This is not the first time they have done this. In 1963-4 the Independence Majimbo Constitution set out regional devolution, which also had revenue allocation, regional assemblies and senators.
Jomo Kenyatta opposed this. Once he was in power he too disobeyed the Constitution: "His strategy to destroy the regional assemblies and force the collapse of the constitution was simple.
While waiting for the legislation revoking devolution to pass through Parliament, Kenyatta starved the regional assemblies of the revenues they needed to operate. By July 1964, [only 8 months after Independence], the bank accounts of the regional assemblies were empty." (Kenya 1963-2011 by Daniel Branch, Page 15).
This is exactly what the current Treasury Officials are doing. They are repeating the old trick used by Kenyatta fifty years ago. More importantly, the people who are doing it now are from the same elite who did it then : those with political power and wealth together. They are now being represented by TNA.
What they are doing now shows what will continue happening if TNA comes to power: it will keep using its control over Treasury appropriations to starve Devolution.
County government will be made to fail. It will result in money going unevenly to preferred areas, while being skimmed off to favoured political parties and individuals.
This is the elite's track record. This is how certain individuals and families became rich in the years after 1963. This is what brought about our huge gap between rich and poor, between the unemployed and those with inordinate wealth.
Centralization is how they have then increased this gap over the past fifty years. Devolution does the opposite, it reduces the gap. This is why the elite are against Devolution and the new Constitution, and why they are scuttling Devolution.
It is Devolution which will bring a more equal sharing of our national wealth and power among all Kenyans. This is what TNA does not want. We have to vote for the coalition that will implement Devolution and the new Constitution fairly and fully. TNA Jubilee is not that coalition.
The writer is a lawyer