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LOCAL POLITICAL SYSTEM OF NAIROBI 305 Local Political System of Nairobi Winnie V. Mittulah Nairobi’s local political system should be discussed and understood in the context of the political system of Local Authorities in Kenya as constituted in the Local Government Act Chapter 265. In this context, this section begins with an overview of the political system in Local Authorities (LAs) in Kenya, including a brief discussion of election of councillors and central government and LA relations, and a presentation and discussion on political system in Nairobi City Council (NCC). This is followed by a discussion on governance of the city which concentrates on resource mobilisation, allocation and management and the role of councillors in these processes. POLITICAL SYSTEM IN LOCAL AUTHORITIES Local Authorities are the political and administrative organs for local governance of resources in most societies. They are conceptualised as lower level entities in the decentralisation debate, which puts emphasis on ›  @        governance, most ‘experiments’ in decentralisation and local democratic governance suggest that African local democracy and governance has failed in virtually every place it has been tried.1 A number of reasons have been provided for the failure of local governments across the globe, including Africa. They include: deliberate withholding of resources by the central governments,2 central bureaucratic hostility and weakness,3 turbulent economic and policy environments which have undercut local institutions, and an undeveloped local civil society that does not effectively support governments in service delivery,4 and absence of complementary reforms needed in national administrative law systems.5 1 Olowu, D., ‘The Failure of Current Decentralisation Programmes in Africa’, in Wunsch, J. and Olowu, D. (eds.), The Failure of the Centralised State: Institutions and Self Governance in Africa. Boulder: Westview Press, 1990, pp. 74–99. 2 Mutahaba, G.P., Reforming Public Administration for Development : Experiences from Eastern Africa, Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press. 3 Smoke, P., Local Government Finance in Developing Countries, Nairobi: Oxford, University Press, 1994. 4 See Wunsch, J. and Olowu, D., ‘Regime transformation from below: decentralisation, local governance, and democratic reform in Nigeria’, Studies in Comparative International Development 31 (4), (1996): 66–82. Olowu, D. and Wunsch, J., ‘Decentralisation, Local Government and Primary Health Care in Nigeria: An Analytical Study’, Journal of African Policy Studies, 1 (93), (1995): 1–22. 5 Ayee, J., ‘The adjustment of central bodies to decentralization: The case of Ghanaian bureaucracy’, African Studies Review 40 (2), (1997): 37–58. 306 NAIROBI TODAY LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN KENYA Most of the above listed reasons affect LAs in Kenya and Nairobi City Council (NCC) is no exception. The NCC like other Local Authorities in Kenya is run through a political system comprising elected, nominated and appointed councillors. Councils are important organs of LAs and are charged with the mobilisation of resources at the local level and policy formulation. Elected councillors are the majority (55), while nominated ones are only 16. Each LA is divided into electoral areas (wards) with each ward electing one councillor to the Council. The councillors represent the electorate, and a prospective councillor should be respected in his community, be familiar with the community she/he seeks to represent and must understand the community6 . The political system works through a committee system based on elected and nominated councillors. The number of committees depends on size, including number of departments, needs and category of LA. Councils in Kenya operate on a Committee System composed of committees, subcommittees and full council. The committee system is dominated by elected     Q  /    "   except the Finance Committee are established by the respective LAs subject to approval by the Minister of Local Government. The Finance Committee is ‡ ˜"` ‘^]  ‡"  In smaller LAs, the Finance Committee also controls, regulates and manages    #    committee is referred to as Finance and General Purpose Committee. Council committees are responsible for debating and resolving issues, while ?   Q      committees. Once an issue is debated and resolved in these two organs, it goes to full council meeting for approval. The conceptualization of the committee system is good but at a practical level, the system has been problematic. Debates are never effective, and councillors focus more on their personal and ward interests without examining the challenges facing respective wards and councils as a whole. This problem has been demonstrated in the allocation of resources from the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) and related Local Authority Service Development Action Plans,7 where competition has been over how much each councillor gets for their respective wards.8 While it is right for the councillors to be inward looking...


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