The ongoing process by Woman Representatives across the 47 counties to identify committee members to the newly created Affirmative Action Social Development Fund (AASDF) has attracted mixed reactions form Civil Society Organization (CSO) activists in Kenya.
The AASDF to be administered under the Public Finance Management Act shall have one person form each constituency in the county nominated through a participatory process. To be nominated, one must be a Kenyan citizen, have a minimum post secondary education certificate from a recognized institution in Kenya and must have at least three years experience in rural development and affirmative action and should also meets requirements of chapter six of the constitution (Leadership and Integrity). Others to form part of the committee are representatives of people with disabilities nominated by the county woman representatives, county commissioner or his/her representative and national officer at the county in charge of gender affairs. The county woman representative shall be an exofficio member.
However the move has attracted stiff opposition from CSO activists who insist that the women representatives being legislators should stick to their role of oversight and leave development matters to the executive. Miss Sidi Kerenge of Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) said that women representatives are supposed to legislate and be representatives of women in their counties at the national level and are supposed to provide oversight which is what they should stick to. She added that “… in my opinion, such a fund would be opening a Pandora’s box for a whole lot of mismanagement of funds’.
On the other hand Tobias a CSO actor and a blogger proposed that the fund should not be administered by a politician as they will siphon it for their own political mileage and proposed that a body be created to to administer the fund. Edwin Kiama of Maskani254 on his part noted that the AASDF just like the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is another illegal fund as the role of the woman representatives is to legislate and provide oversight but not to manage funds while Mike Orwa of the Society for International Development (SID) was brief and spot on. Orwa said that ” .. we need to stop ghettoization of development funds”.
Mr Mule Musau on his part noted that the fund is totally illegal as separation of powers demands that each arm of government operate within its mandate. He added that county woman representatives being part of legislature can only have oversight roles and pointed at the ruling that declared CDF illegal.
Tom Oketch the secretary general of the Coalition for Constitution Implementation (CCI) on his part noted that AASDF is just another conduit for legislators self aggrandizement and misappropriation of funds and also to weaken the county governments. He added that CCI would partner with other CSOs to move to court to block the move like the case with the CDF.
Nicholas Kimanzi of Bunge la Mwananchi (BLM) said that there is no way any legislator should have a kitty at their disposal as they are supposed to provide oversight the use of public funds. Kimanzi who has also expressed his interest for the BLM Presidency in the forthcoming BLM polls in August added that “.. conflict of interest is bound to occur in such situations as the politicians will want to use the fund for campaigns”. He concluded by saying that because there are devolved units, all funds must be channeled through the County Governments.
However a cross section of woman representatives supported the AASDF claiming that women have been marginalized for a long time hence the fund was to help them catch up with men who have dominated economic processes in Kenya.
The role of the fund vis a viz other affirmative action funds like Uwezo fund and Women fund is still not clear and it would be wise to channel such funds through the equalization fund which is there to remedy historical imbalances and if it must be created then it should be channeled through the county government as the AASDF is in itself an attempt to devolve funds to the women at the grassroots.
David Otieno – ED Hapa Extension Providers