Implementation of the new constitution
The new Constitution which was promulgated in August 2010 and is now being fully implemented after the 2013 general elections is regarded as a significant achievement in Kenya’s governance history. Core features are a comprehensive bill of rights, the devolution of power and resources to counties, effective controls of the executive branch, a more independent Judiciary, a more powerful Parliament, and democratically managed political parties with a national outlook. Even though some principles had been compromised during political negotiations, it generally met a great number of expectations of Kenyans. The phase of implementing the new Constitution is scheduled to cover five years.
After the 2007 presidential elections, Kenya was swept by ethnic violence and international efforts to resolve the crisis resulted in a four-point agenda which addressed long-term challenges. Key reforms included in the “Agenda 4” which was part of the power-sharing agreement of 2008 (the National Accord) are constitutional, police and land reforms amongst others. Although the 2010 constitution provides for land and police reforms in the meantime, neither the Grand Coalition Government (2008 – 2013) nor the Jubilee Government (from 2013) achieved impressive progress in these areas.
FES has been supporting the constitutional reform process since its beginning, and is committed to cooperate with its partner organizations towards operationalizing the provisions laid out in the new constitution.
Devolution: Devolution is regarded a key area within the new bicameral political system. The Constitution provides for a cooperative devolved government which requires distinctness, inter-dependence and cooperation between the national and county level. The national and county governments are autonomous and inter-dependent, but tensions were rising after the 2013 elections over intergovernmental relations, roles and responsibilities and sharing of resources. Another challenge is to ensure that the devolved system of government will not be frustrated by either ethnic or other conflicts, e.g. over land or mineral resources, as new minorities will emerge in the counties. There is a possibility that anti-reformist political actors will undermine the process of implementation. One such strategy is to withhold resources to weaken county governments. Also, due to an already apparent continuity in political alliance- and decision-making, it might be very well that institutionalized corrupt and clientelistic networks are transferred to the county level. On the other hand, civil society increasingly makes use of new structures of citizen participation in the devolved system which might contribute to improved accountability and transparency. FES therefore concentrates its work on the increased scope of political participation through strengthening democratic institutions and new representative organs such as the County Assemblies and Senate.
At the national level, FES supports the work of the Devolution Working Group (DWG), successor of the Task Force on Devolved Government (TFDG), with whom it regularly convenes the “Devolved Governance Dialogue”. The DWG also publishes “Advisory Notes” which critically assess the realization of the devolved system. Those activities aim at advancing legislation. Advisory Note on Devolution Process No 2.pdf
At the county level, FES cooperates with www.pioneers4change.org to convene Citizen Action Groups (CAGs) that advocate for better public policy and service delivery and facilitate participation of citizens in decision-making. The Citizen Action Groups are platforms for the county constituencies to engage with their leaders with a view to proposing policy choices and options, including recommendations that would ensure effective and efficient service delivery to the citizenry. The CAGs comprise leaders from a select cadre of organized groups and Civil Society Organizations drawn from the ward level, including young leaders who vied in the 2013 elections but were not elected. Among other activities coined in this framework are Governor Roundtable Forums, where the CAGs from the County meet with their County Officials led by the Governor to submit and discuss policy options and recommendation. See County Action Group Monitoring Tool for FES Kenya.pdf
To enhance understanding of devolution matters, FES commissioned the booklet Devolution made simple.pdf
Security Sector Reform: The Kenyan police are accused of rampant corruption, brutality and disregard for human rights. Extrajudicial killings are on the rise. The security vacuum became apparent during the four-day-long Westgate Mall terror attack, but is also illustrated by the inability to provide security in many areas where local conflicts paralyse public life. So far, only a few steps were made towards the long awaited security sector reform. To the contrary, amendments to the police reform package which are being discussed in Parliament would allow extrajudicial killings and human rights violations, weaken the civilian oversight and increase the control of the police by the executive. FES supports the work of the National Police Service Commission.
Political Parties Reform: As a foundation associated with the Social Democratic Party in Germany and dedicated to political education, FES has a particular interest in promoting political parties as a cornerstone of a representative democracy. Corruption, patronage and ethnicity are common attributes of political parties in Kenya as the study by our partner, Centre for Governance and Development (CGD) (Institutionalizing political parties.pdf) finds. Hence, policy formulation, the recruitment of political leaders, vetting of candidates, preparation of party lists, and gender balance issues are of major concern. FES organizes trainings to promote intra-party democracy and foster young party activists. For more details, please click The Political Leadership Governance Programme (PLGP).pdf
Publications and Presentation Papers