Senators to now attend devolution conference

In response to growing accusations that the annual devolution conferences have locked out senators, governors are this year roping in the legislators in the last meeting ahead of the 2017 election.

The senators had consistently accused the county bosses of using the conferences as a campaign platform and a field to “massage their egos”.

The legislators have also complained of not being involved in the planning stages, not being included in the numerous panel discussions and what they said was area senators not, at the least, being recognised in the conference.

But an elated Senate Devolution Committee chairman Wilfred Lesan told the Nation that all was well now.

“We expect a smooth and inclusive conference right in the wild of the Mara. The senators have been involved right from the start and most of the past problems have been addressed,” Prof Lesan said.

The devolution conference in Narok County will be held from February 20 to 24.

The meeting will be held at the Mara Game Reserve in the middle of the wild in what Governor Samwel Tunai promises will be a move to appreciate the fruits of devolution.

PRESIDENT KENYATTA

Under the theme “The Devolution Transformation”, it is expected to be opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The first conference was held in Kwale in 2014, Kisumu in 2015 and was last year hosted in Meru.

In the three meets, the senators complained of exclusion, saying even the area senators were not recognised in the meetings, let alone being involved in its planning.

The vice-chair of the Council of Governors John Mruttu said all the stakeholders would be involved in the Narok conference.

“We have already had two meetings of the steering committee and we have involved everyone we needed to. The Senate, the MCAs, and the ministry are all involved,” said Mr Mruttu.
The steering committee is co-chaired by Governor Mruttu and Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro. The meeting held its second meeting on Friday last week at the Mara.

“The senators have started the discussion of being fully involved in the conference and it is one step at a time. We all hope to be there,” said nominated Senator Agnes Zani.

CAMPAIGN PLATFORM

Last year, the senators boycotted the meeting in Meru protesting at what they said was a plan by the governors to use the conference as a campaign platform and a venue to attack them.

At that time, the Senate and the governors were locked in a bitter war on graft. In the Kisumu meeting, the senators beat the drums of accountability to the governors in a highly-charged meeting that also saw a spirited discussion on the two-thirds gender rule.

The Narok meeting will come at a time when the inaugural counties will be preparing to hand over to the next governments. “Transition is a subject we keep discussing, whether in the devolution conference or out of it. We want peaceful transitions,” said Governor Mruttu.

The conference will feature the Devolution Warrior Awards, meant to recognise organisations that have supported devolution.

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