Government of Kenya
Government of Kenya: Kenya got independence from Britain in 1963. Kenya is in the fourth Presidency since independence in 1963. The need to change the Kenya constitution to be in aline with current global trends bore fruit on August 4, 2010. Finally, Kenya ended a 20 year search for a replacement of the Lancaster constitution that was negotiated between the country’s nationalists and colonialists.
With the new constitution the Kenya government structure will change fundamentally. Kenya will adopt a fully presidential system of government, with county government, county assemblies, governors and senators. The Executive and the Legislature will be delinked, unlike in the past where Cabinet ministers in Kenya were drawn from Parliament.
Kenya Government Structure – Arms of Government in Kenya
In Kenya, the powers of government are traditionally divided into three main organs i.e the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The separation of powers here makes the judiciary more independent however, the legislature, which makes the laws, contains members of the executive (President and the Cabinet Ministers) who are responsible for carrying out the laws.
This is not unusual since the Ministers who are elected members of parliament, are responsible both individually and collectively to the legislature for the administration of their Ministries.
Kenya Government: The Executive
The Executive power is held by the President who is elected by direct popular vote for 5 years. The President is usually assisted by an appointed Vice-President and a Cabinet.
Kenya Government: The Legislature – Parliament, National Assembly
The Parliament of Kenya is a bicameral house consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has a total of 349 members plus the Speaker who is an ex-officio. The National Assembly consists of the following:- two hundred and ninety (290) members, each elected by the registered voters of single member constituencies; forty-seven (47) women representatives, each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency; twelve (12) members nominated by parliamentary political parties according to their proportion of members of the National Assembly to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers; and the Speaker, who is an ex officio member.
The Senate consists of 67 members plus the Speaker, who is an ex-officio member. It consists of, Forty-seven (47) members each elected by the registered voters of the counties, each county constituting a single member constituency; Sixteen (16) women representatives nominated by political parties according to their proportion of members of the Senate; Two members (2), being one man and one woman, representing the youth; Two (2) members, being one man and one woman, representing persons with disabilities; and The Speaker, is an ex officio member.
Members of the National Assembly are referred as Members of Parliament (MP) while Members of the Senate are referred as Senators. Both the MPs and Senators serve a 5-year term.
Parliamentary politics in Kenya is open, free, fair and highly competitive field. Kenya has indeed held all its general elections – presidential, parliamentary, and local authorities every 5 years as required by the Constitution, without fail since the country attained independence in 1963. On March 4, 2013, Kenya went to a general election, the first ever under the new constitution which was promulgated in August, 2010.
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Government of Kenya: The Judiciary
The High Court of Kenya: This Court has unlimited criminal and civil jurisdiction at first instance, and sits as a Court of appeal from subordinate courts in both criminal and civil cases. The high Court is also a Court of admiralty.
Resident Magistrate’s Courts: These have countrywide jurisdiction with powers on punishment by imprisonment or by fine. If presided over by a Chief Magistrate or Senior Resident Magistrate, the Court is empowered to pass any sentence authorized by Law. For certain offenses, a Resident Magistrate may pass minimum sentences authorized by law.
District Magistrate Courts: These are Courts of First, Second and Third Class. They have jurisdiction within the Districts and powers of punishment by imprisonment or by fines.
Kadhi’s Courts have jurisdiction within districts, to determine questions of Islamic Law.
Government of Kenya – Devolved Government
County governments in Kenya fall within Kenya’s devolved structure. The cardinal principal of devolution is to decentralise administrative, financial and political power to the local level in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of government. In effect, devolution is envisioned to provide opportunity for greater citizen participation in local development and permits the government to respond quickly to local needs.
The County Government comprises the County Assembly and the County Executive. The county assembly is the legislative arm of the County, while the County Executive carries out the executive functions of the county.
The County Assembly is the voice of the residents of the County. The Assembly holds the legislative authority of the County.
The County Assembly will enact County laws, direct and limit the power of the Governor and the County Executive and, while respecting the principle of separation of powers, exercise an over-sight role in all the activities within the County.
The assembly comprises of a speaker and elected and nominated members who among other things are expected to:
- Maintain close contact with and consult the people of their ward on issues to be discussed in the Assembly and to collate their views, opinions and proposals.
- Present the views, opinions and proposals of the people of his ward in the County Assembly
- Draw attention in general debate to national policies, which are relevant to the debate in the house.
- Actively participate in the work of any sub-Committee appointed to maintain frequent liaison with organized productive economic groupings in the County.
- Appraise the electorate on the workings of the Assembly and debates and decisions passed
The Assembly is charged with the responsibility of receiving and approving plans and policies for the exploitation and management of the County’s resources and the development and management of the County’s infrastructure and institutions. In doing so, County Assembly is bound national and county legislation.
Other functions of the county assembly include:
- Approval and oversight of budgets
- Approval of development projects
- Supervision of other units within the County through political authority, guidance, and direction
- Monitoring the execution of projects under approved development plans and assesses and evaluates their impact on people’s development.
- Approval of investment decisions.
- Approval of loans.
Government of Kenya – County Executive
The Executive authority of the County is vested in and to be exercised by a County Executive Committee consisting of a County Governor, Deputy County Governor and members appointed by the County Governor with the approval of the County Assembly, but who should not be members of the County Assembly. The Governor, directly elected by the populace, is the chief political executive of the county.
The governor of the county:
- Performs such state functions as the president may determine
- Represents the county in national and international fora and events
- Constitutes the county executive committee portfolio structure to respond to the functions and competencies assigned to and transferred to each county.
- Submits the county plans and policies to the county assembly for approval
- Considers, approves and assents to bills passed by the county assembly
- Chairs meetings of the county executive committee
- Submits to the county assembly an annual report on the implementation status of the county policies and plans
The Deputy Governor of the county Deputises the governor in executing executive functions in the county executive.The Governor may also assign Deputy Governor any other responsibility or portfolio as a member of the county executive committee.
The County Executive Committee comprises of members nominated by the governor and approved by the county assembly. In appointing members of the county executive, the governor shall take into consideration gender equality, community and cultural diversity as well representation of minorities.
Additionally, in order for someone to be appointed to the county executive, they have to be a Kenyan Citizen, a holder of at least a first degree from a university recognized in Kenya, satisfies requirements of chapter six of the constitution and has experience and a distinguished career of not less than five years in the field relevant to that portfolio.
Functions of the County Executive are stipulated under article 183 of the constitution of Kenya (2010) as follows
- To Implement county legislation
- To Implement within the county national legislation to the extent the legislation requires
- To Manage and coordinate the functions of the county administration and its departments and
- To Perform any other functions conferred to it by the constitution or national legislation
- To prepare proposed legislation for consideration by the county assembly
- To provide the county assembly with regular reports on matters relating to the county.