Kisii County Governor Simba Arati has vowed to involve the mwananchi up to the village level in all county government initiatives.
Governor Arati said, unlike before, his administration will fully embrace public participation for sustainable development.
The Governor was speaking at the Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technology (KHIBIT) when he held a consultative meeting with both county and national government officials ahead of the forthcoming public participation for the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) 2023-2027.
“As I said during my campaigns, I will give all voters across the 45 wards an opportunity to be involved in decision making process especially on projects that directly impact them,” said the Governor.
The meeting was attended by the Kisii County Commissioner Allan Macharia, Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), Deputy County Commissioners (DCCs), Assistant County Commissioners (ACCs), Chiefs and their assistants, sub county administrators, ward administrators, a team from the Budget and Economics directorate, the directorate of public participation among other officers.
The public participation exercise is scheduled to take place on Monday to Thursday next week across all sub locations. This is the first time to conduct public participation at the sub-location level and Kisii County will be among the first counties to take this route.
The five-year development plan is a county blueprint that will contain programs and projects to be implemented by the County Government, National Government, Development partners, NGOs, Private Sector, and individual citizens in the planning period - 2023/24-2027/28.
“Article 6 (2) of the Constitution provides that National and County levels of government are distinct and interdependent and shall conduct their mutual relations based on consultation and cooperation. This means that these levels of governments are interrelated and need to work together in discharging their various functions for the benefit of the Kenyan people,” said Arati.
The Governor promised that in his tenure, he will ensure that all citizens have a say in every project that is affecting their local community and urged the national government to support his endeavor through mobilization of participants for the public participation exercises.
“One of the pillars in my manifesto is devolution and governance. I promised during my campaigns to prioritize the deepening and further decentralizing governance structures and empower the community to hold the officers accountable, offer efficient and proximity services and entrench the practice of public participation in the formulation, prioritization, and review of the implementation of development programs. This is precisely what my administration is doing - allowing citizens to air their voices in decision-making,” he said.
The CIDP is prepared in line with Section 108 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012. Without it, the County cannot get its equitable share from the exchequer nor attract funding from the development partners.
“The State Department for Planning has developed guidelines for preparing CIDPs to ensure uniformity across the counties. As a county, we are expected to align our priorities with the National Government policies like Vision 2030, which, among others, provides that we are one country with one vision of improving the standard of living of our people through poverty eradication,” added the Governor.
Governor Arati outlined that article 201 of the Constitution of Kenya requires openness, accountability, and public participation in financial matters adding that County Planning processes are mandatory in Section 115 of the County Government Act 2012.
“I am aware that public participation has not been as meaningful as it was done at the sub-county level, thereby denying the majority of the members of the public an opportunity to give views due to the distances. This resulted in decisions which were made based on assumptions and imaginations as they were made in boardrooms, far from reality,” Simba told participants.
He regretted that as a result, most projects undertaken by his predecessor lack ownership, making sustainability difficult.
“In most cases, the public was never consulted, therefore, could not identify themselves with the project. When you pass around, you hear people say, “hii, ni project ya Governor or MCA.” This has now come to an end,’ he promised.
He noted that development issues are at the village; hence people should be given a chance to take charge and that MCAs will oversight the processes.
“Assistant Chiefs will play a key role in moderating the discussions as my officers will take the issues and the proposed interventions. I, therefore, ask you to be my ambassadors in your areas of jurisdiction. Mobilize opinion shapers, young and old, to participate in this noble exercise,” he asserted.
He said there will be representatives from every sub-location representing men, women, youth, and persons living with disabilities and asked mwananchi to choose them wisely considering their character, geographical distribution, and gender.
The County Commissioner assured the governor and his administration of total commitment by his team across the wards to ensure that the exercise is successful.
He thanked Governor Simba for choosing to work with the team, saying Kisii County residents need leaders who deliver regardless of the level of governance.