The Devolution Forum
The Devolution Forum is a multi-sectoral alliance of like-minded networks, organizations and individuals united for the promotion and protection of Devolution and its implementation as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. Through TDF, CSOs are able to champion for the protection of devolved governance from undue interference and to collaborate with likeminded institutions and governments (national and county) to make the implementation of devolution people-centred.
Kenya is currently five years into a new Constitutional regime, and two years into the roll out of the devolved framework, both of which emphasize participation of the people. It is therefore imperative that we critically reflect and interrogate the status of public participation.
The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 raises the standard on public involvement, decision-making, policy formulation and lays the basis for the development of a policy framework on citizen participation. Key provisions pertaining to this include: Article 1 which vests all sovereign power in the people of Kenya. Public participation is further implied in several other provisions among them, Articles 10, 129 and 132 which provide for the participation of the people in the execution of law and in policy making. The Constitution has therefore opened a new space for the public and for the exercise of popular sovereignty through legislative activity in as set out in Articles 118,119 and 196 where public participation in the legislative and other business of Parliament, County Assembly and its Committees is now guaranteed. Article 35 secures the right to information. As relates to Public Finance and Participation, Chapter 12 and Article 201(a) provides for openness and accountability, including public participation in financial matters.
Public participation, both as a right and a duty, is therefore anchored in the Constitution as well as various laws on devolution. However, without a robust policy framework and county laws on the same to provide guidance on the modalities and structures for Kenyans to participate in public affairs, the process cannot be said to be effective or efficient as yet.
These gaps prompted judicial intervention in the form of interpretation of what constitutes proper public consultation and participation. The court sitting in Murang’a and Kiambu Counties prescribed the basic threshold to be met for true and meaningful to be said to have taken place e.g. minimum duration of notice, manner of publicizing public fora, the requirement for prior information on the matter to be deliberated upon etc.