Counties in Kenya
Counties in Kenya: The Kenya Constitution has introduced two levels of government, the national government and the County government, which are distinct and interdependent. Kenya has 47 counties to be headed by governors.
The national government will ensure reasonable access to its services in all parts of the country. The two levels will conduct their affairs mutually on the basis of consultation and cooperation.
Devolution is enshrined in Chapter 11 of the Constitution. It legalizes the formation of the 47 counties, each with its own government as spelt out in the County Governments Act, 2012. This Act also created elaborate structures to ensure the full implementation and success of devolution.
The county governments have executive and legislative authority, including the accompanying mandates and powers, to raise limited revenue, establish policies, plans,budget and governance. Under this Act, the national government is obliged to support the county governments. .
The form of the devolved government is defined in Section Six,which states that though the two levels of government are distinct,they remain independent.
Counties in Kenya – Functions of the county government
- To promote democratic and accountable exercise of power;
- To foster national unity by recognising diversity;
- To give powers of self – governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them;
- To recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development;
- To protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities;
- To promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya;
- To ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya;
- To facilitate the decentralization of State organs, their functions and services, from the capital of Kenya; and
- To enhance checks and balances and the separation of powers.
The county government in Kenya oversee:
- Agriculture (crop and animal husbandry).
- County health services.
- Cultural activities.
- Public entertainment and public amenities.
- County transport.
- Trade development and regulation.
- County planning and development.
- Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, home craft centres and childcare Facilities.
- Implementation of specific national government policies on natural resources, environmental conservation.
- County public works and services.
Structure of the County Government
Counties in Kenya: County Assemblies
Each of the 47 counties has a County Assembly whose members are elected directly by the registered voters of the wards, each ward constituting a single member constituency, on the same day as the General Election of Members of Parliament.
The County Assembly has a speaker elected from among persons who are not members of the assembly.
The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee, which consists of the county governor and the deputy county governor; and members appointed by the county governor, with the approval of the assembly, from among persons who are not members of the assembly. The county governor and deputy are elected directly.
The national government has the mandate to perform its functions and exercise its powers in a manner that respects the functional and institutional integrity of government at the other level, and respects the constitutional status and institutions of government.
County Assembly consists of members elected by voters of the wards – each ward being a single member constituency – representatives of people with disabilities and the youth nominated by political parties depending on their strength in the assembly, and the Speaker, an ex official member.
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A county assembly will be elected for a term of five years. Its Speaker will be elected by the county assembly from among people who are not assembly members.
- The Speaker will preside or in his or her absence, a member of the assembly elected by the assembly.
- A county assembly may make laws necessary for the effective performance of the county government.
- The assembly will also exercise oversight over the executive committee and other county organs.
A county assembly consists of:
1. Members elected by the registered voters of the wards in a general election.
2. The number of special seats necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender.
3. Members of marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities and the youth, as prescribed by an Act of Parliament.
4. The Speaker, who is an ex officio member. The members in 2 and 3 are to be nominated by political parties in proportion to the seats received in the election in a particular county.
Functions of County Assemblies
The functions include:
- Making laws for the effective performance of the county government.
- Exercising oversight over the county executive committee.
- Receiving and approving plans and policies for:
- managing and exploiting the county’s resources, and
- developing and managing the infrastructure and institutions.
Eligibility for election to a County Assembly
One is eligible if he/she:
- Is registered as a voter.
- Satisfies educational, moral and ethical requirements
- Prescribed by law.
- Is either:
- nominated by a political party; or
- an independent candidate supported by at least five hundred registered voters in the Ward concerned.
A person is disqualified from being elected a member of a county assembly if the person:
- Is a State officer or other public officer.
- Has at any time within past five years held office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
- Has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least ten years before the date of election.
- Is of unsound mind.
- Is an undischarged bankrupt.
- Is serving a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months.
- Has been found in accordance with any law to have
- Misused or abused a State or public office.
County executive committees in Kenya
The executive authority of the county will be exercised by the county executive committee comprising the governor, deputy governor and members appointed by the county governor, with the approval of the assembly.
The number of the executive committee assembly members should not exceed a third of the county assembly members if it has less than 30 members or 10 if the assembly has 30 or more members.
The county governor and the deputy county governor are the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the county.
When the governor is absent, the deputy governor acts as governor. A person cannot hold office of governor or deputy governor for more than two five-year terms.
Functions of county executive committees in Kenya
- Implement county and national legislation that applies to counties;
- Manage and coordinate county administration;
- Prepare legislation for consideration by the county assembly; and
- Prepare regular reports for the county assembly.
Removal of a County Governor
A governor can be removed for violating the Constitution, committing a crime under national or international law, abuse of office, gross misconduct or physical and/or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office.
A county governor may be removed from office on any of the following grounds:
- Gross violation of this Constitution or any other law.
- There are serious reasons for believing that the county governor has committed a crime under national or international law.
- Abuse of office or gross misconduct.
- Physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of office of county governor.
Vacancy In the office of County Governor
It becomes vacant if the holder dies, resigns or writes a letter to the Speaker of the county assembly or ceases to be eligible to be elected governor. The office also becomes vacant if the governor is convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least 12 months or is removed from office.
If a vacancy occurs, the deputy governor assumes office as governor for the remainder of the term. In such a case, the deputy governor is deemed to have served a full term as county governor if more than two and a half years remain before the next election.
If a vacancy occurs in the offices of the governor and deputy governor, the speaker of the county assembly acts as the governor. An election of governor is then held within 60 days.
Staffing of County Governments
A county government is responsible, within a framework of uniform norms and standards prescribed by an Act
of Parliament for:
- Establishing and abolishing offices in its public service.
- Appointing persons to hold or act in those offices, and confirming appointments.
Boundaries of Counties in Kenya
The boundaries of a county will be drawn and may be altered only by a resolution:
- Recommended by an independent commission set up for that purpose by Parliament, and
- Passed by:
- the National Assembly with the support of at least two thirds of all of the members of the Assembly; and
- the Senate with the support of at least two-thirds of all of the county delegations.
The boundaries of a county may be altered when the following factors are put into consideration: Population density and demographic trends.
- Physical and human infrastructure.
- Historical and cultural ties.
- Cost of administration.
- Views of the communities affected.
- Objects of devolution of government.
- Geographical features.
Suspension of a county government
The President may suspend a county government due to internal conflict, war or other exceptional circumstances. The suspension cannot be for more than 90 days and when it is over, elections are held.
A county government cannot be suspended unless an independent commission of inquiry has investigated allegations against the county, the President is satisfied the allegations are justified and the Senate has authorised the suspension.
During suspension, arrangements must be made for the performance of the functions of a county government. The Senate may at any time terminate the suspension.
Council of County Governors in Kenya
This is a governors’ caucus and creates a forum through which the county bosses can engage the national government. Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto became the first occupier of the office.
County Executive Committee in Kenya
Also referred to as the County Cabinet, comprises not more than 10 members who run key service delivery departments.
The County Executive Committee members are nominated by the governor and vetted by members of the County Assembly who represent various wards across the county. Members of this Assembly are either elected or nominated.
The Constitution also establishes the County Assembly Service Boards whose chairman and members must also be vetted by the Assembly.
The County Assembly in Kenya
This is the county parliament where elected and nominated members debate issues concerning the management of the county. They pass budgets, vet governor’s nominees and pass Bills. The Assembly is constituted according to the provisions in section 177 (a), (b), (c) and (d)of the Constitution and Section 7(1) and (2) of the County Governments Act 2011.
The County Assembly has a speaker, majority leader and the minority leader. Every County Assembly has a life span of five years, as explained in section 177 (4)of the Constitution.
The Assembly consists of members elected by registered voters in the Wards, members allocated special seats, such as women nominees and members of marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities.
Counties in Kenya: Revenue Funds
With the county framework, the Constitution allows for the establishment of a Revenue Fund for each county government, into which shall be paid all money raised or received by or on behalf of the county government, except money reasonably excluded by an Act of Parliament. The money may be withdrawn from the Revenue Fund of a county government only as authorized by an appropriation by legislation of the county but should be approved by the Controller of Budget.
Counties in Kenya: Revenue raising powers
Only the national government may impose income tax, value added tax, customs duties and other duties on import and export goods and excise tax.
On their side, the counties may impose property rates, entertainment taxes and any other tax that they are authorised to impose by an Act of Parliament. The national and county governments may impose charges for services.
However, it is important to note that the taxation and other revenue – raising powers of a county shall not be exercised in a way that prejudices national economic policies, economic activities across county boundaries or the national mobility of goods, services, capital or labour.
Counties in Kenya: Revenue allocation among counties
The Commission on Revenue Allocation make recommendations concerning the basis for the equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government, between the national and county governments and among the county governments.
According to the Constitution, for every financial year the equitable share of the revenue raised nationally that is allocated to county governments shall be not less than 15 per cent of all revenue collected by the national government.
Currently at Kshs1.5 trillion ($17.65 billion), this means the counties will share about Kshs 203 billion ($2.4 billion).
The Commission on Revenue Allocation has devised a formula of allocating this revenue, which is before Parliament.
According to this formula, counties will receive 45 per cent of this cash based on their population, 20 per cent on poverty and eight per cent on geographical size. In addition, all counties will equally share 25 per cent of the revenues.
Counties that have been marginalised for decades also have an equalisation fund, which will seek to hasten their development so they catch up with the rest.
The Constitution divides the country into 47 counties based on the delineation of administrative districts as created under the Provinces and Districts Act of 1992.
List of counties in Kenya
Here is a list of the 47 counties in Kenya
- Baringo County
- Bomet County
- Bungoma County
- Busia County
- Elgeyo Marakwet County
- Embu County
- Garissa County
- Homa Bay County
- Isiolo County
- Kajiado County
- Kakamega County
- Kericho County
- Kiambu County
- Kilifi County
- Kirinyaga County
- Kisii County
- Kisumu County
- Kitui County
- Kwale County
- Laikipia County
- Lamu County
- Machakos County
- Makueni County
- Mandera County
- Meru County
- Migori County
- Marsabit County
- Mombasa County
- Muranga County
- Nairobi County
- Nakuru County
- Nandi County
- Narok County
- Nyamira County
- Nyandarua County
- Nyeri County
- Samburu County
- Siaya County
- Taita Taveta County
- Tana River County
- Tharaka Nithi County
- Trans Nzoia County
- Turkana County
- Uasin Gishu County
- Vihiga County
- Wajir County
- West Pokot County