County Executive Committee: Powers

 

The County Executive Committee will be the highest decision making organ at the County:

179. (1) The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee.

As the head of the Committee, the Governor is by default, the CEO of the County:

(4) The county governor and the deputy county governor are the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the county, respectively.

The powers of the Committee are not absolute, and will be under the direct oversight of the County Assembly for purposes of checks and balances:

183. (3) The county executive committee shall provide the county assembly with full and regular reports on matters relating to the county.

185. (3) A county assembly, while respecting the principle of the separation of powers, may exercise oversight over the county executive committee and any other county executive organs.

While approving the impeachment of the Governor of Embu County on the 13th of May 2014, the Senate highlighted the truism that the buck stops with the Governor of a County having absolved him of direct liability over the charges of gross misconduct over the financial improprieties and corruption in his County. “Impeachment is a tool of governance. It’s not a declaration about his personal liability. ....... It’s about accountability. It’s about facts .......,” said Senator Murkomen.

While the Senate remains the primary protector of the peoples' interests at the Counties, the CoK2010 provides alternative mechanisms for the citizens to directly call for the removal of their Governor through a popular initiative. Indeed, in November 2014, the people of Makueni County and the County Assembly elected to rid themselves of their County Executive when they collected more than 50,000 signatures for a petition to dissolve their own government.

Excerpt from the County Government Act 2012, Article 123:

123. (2) A petition ....... shall be supported by the signatures of not less than ten percent of the registered voters in the county.

After the signatures were verified by the IEBC, the President had no choice but to form a Commission of Inquiry with the approval of the Senate:

(3) The President shall, within fourteen days after receiving a petition against a county government under subsection (1), submit a report on the averments made and grounds giving rise to suspension of a county government before the apex intergovermental body (hereinafter refered to
as the apex body) established under the law governing intergovernmental relations for approval.
(4) Upon approval by the apex body, the President shall nominate members of a Commission to inquire into and investigate the situation in the county and make recommendations on the suspension of the county government and shall, after approval by Senate, appoint the members of the
Commission by notice in the Gazette.

Surprisingly, the petition received open support from both the Council of Governors and the President after they satisfied themselves that it was the prudent thing to do as mediation efforts between the Governor of Makueni and the County Assembly had failed to bear any fruit. Finally, on the 3rd of August 2015, the Commission handed its report to the President essentially agreeing with the people of Makueni that their government should be dissolved.

To the utter surprise of some commentators - this writer included - the President did not feel sufficiently compelled to act on the recommendations of the Commission to dissolve the County Government of Makueni citing inadequate threshold within the evidence contained in the report. Some felt that the Senate ought to have had a greater say in the matter than the President (who by the way, 'acted within the law'), perhaps because the general public expectation at that time, was that the dissolution of the County's government was a foregone conclusion. Yet others agreed with the decision of the President, terming it as both cautious but well-informed.

 

 

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