When Kenyans go to the polls on Monday, March 4, they will in essence, but belatedly, be ushering in a new constitutional order that was promulgated two years ago in August 2010.
This will probably be the most important moment, only comparable to August 27, 2010 when the new constitution was promulgated after nearly 20 years of struggle.
The full implementation of the constitution was put in abeyance by the transitional and consequential clauses.On Monday, the implementation of the new constitution goes full circle. From March 4, when Kenyans vote for what many hope will be a new order, and when the President elect is finally inaugurated, a lot is expected.
First, the new constitution will essentially bound the new President and never will the country be beholden to the imperial president of old, who was a monarch in everything except name.
The role of the presidency in Kenya has animated and dominated popular and political discourses in Kenya because the power of the holder permeates all the arms and organs of government, the entire public sector, the private and non-governmental sector.
But the man or woman who will be elected on Monday will be a different animal.The constitution identifies three arms of the government, the executive, the judiciary and legislature.
The Executive composed of the President, the Deputy President and the Cabinet, in which ministers will be now be called secretaries. The new constitution retains the powers of the President as Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief, President will chair cabinet meetings, and direct and co-ordinate functions of government ministries and departments.
Decisions made by the President and Cabinet in the performance of their functions will be in writing, and in the case of a Presidential decision, shall bear the seal and signature of the President. This requirement was not provided for under the old constitution and will enhance transparency and accountability within the offices of the President and cabinet secretaries.
The Chief Justice heads the judiciary while the Speaker of the National Assembly heads the legislature.
However, the President is required to seek the approval of Parliament when appointing Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney-General, the Secretary to the Cabinet, Principal Secretaries (permanent secretaries), high commissioners and ambassadors and other high ranking public servants.
The constitution has put a sealing on the number of cabinet secretaries the President can appoint to between 14 and 22. The old constitution did not limit the number of Cabinet ministers which enabled appointment of a bloated cabinet, like the current case where we have 42.
The authority of the people to make laws at the national level is vested in Parliament. The constitution has created a two chamber parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate.
The National Assembly shall represent the people and special interests of constituencies, pass laws concerning both county and national governments, approve and disapprove Senate's resolution to determine annual allocation of national revenue among counties. The Assembly shall have powers to review conduct of President, Deputy President and other State officers and may initiate the process of removing them from office, exercise oversight over state organs and approve declarations of war and extensions of state of emergency.
The Senate will represent and protect interests of counties and their governments at the national level, debate and approve Bills concerning counties, determine allocation of national revenue among counties, consider and determine resolution to remove President or Deputy President from office.
The two-chamber Parliament will enhance transparency and accountability within the Legislature, provide for representation of the interests of people at county levels at the national level and the additional seats provided through nomination by political parties will guarantee representation of people with special interests at national level.
In a effort to take government services closer to the people, the constitution creates 47 counties; each will have a government consisting of a county Assembly and a County Executive.
The County Assembly is the small Parliament that will hold its sittings at the headquarters and make laws for the county. The county executive will exercise executive power at the county level and will be headed by the governor.
There will be no "small judiciary" at the county level.Just like the president at the national level, the governor will have his ministers (the county executive committee), the head of county public service who will also be secretary to the county executive committee.
Every county shall have the county flag, coat of arms and public seal which shall not be the same as, or bear a likeness or similarity to a national symbol.
The governor will execute the functions and exercise the authority provided for in the Constitution and other legislations. He will perform state functions within the county as the President may from time to time assign on the basis of mutual consultations, represent the county in national and international fora and events. He will also constitute the county executive committee portfolio structure to respond to the functions and competencies assigned to and transferred to each county.
The county executive committee will implement laws for the benefits of counties and, to administer functions of the governor and his running mate, who will be elected directly by voters in the county.
A county government will be responsible for establishing and abolishing offices in its public service, appointing persons to hold such offices and removing them from holding or acting in those offices.
The governor will appoint members of county executive committee appointed by the governor but they must be approved by the County Assembly and shall not be members of the County Assembly.
Members of a county executive committee will be accountable to the governor and will cease to hold office if a vacancy arises in the office of the governor. The governor may be removed from office on grounds of physical or mental incapacity, gross violation of the constitution or any other law, abuse of office or gross misconduct.
The County Assembly will exercise power to enact laws at the county level, play an oversight over the county executive committee and other county executive organs. It will receive and approve plans and policies for management of the county's resources, infrastructure and institutions.
The law provides that members of County Assembly shall maintain close contact with the electorate and consult them on issues before or under discussion in the County Assembly, present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the assembly, attend sessions of the County Assembly and its committees, provide a linkage between the assembly and the electorate on public service delivery and extend professional knowledge, experience or specialised knowledge to any issue for discussion in the Assembly.
Just like in Parliament, each County Assembly has a Speaker, clerk and leader of the majority party and a leader of the minority party.
All local authorities established under the Local Government Act existing immediately before the new constitution came into effect will continue to exist.
According to Cities and Urban Areas Act, the municipal councils will be managed by boards of directors who will be appointed by the governor.
Each constituency has been designated as a sub county and shall be managed by the sub-county administrator, while every ward in the county will have the office of the ward administrator, while every village shall have a village administrator who will be in charge of the village council.