The role and functions of a County Governor in Kenya are important in the county government setup. One of the most important elective positions in Kenya is that of a county governor.
The major role of a County Governor in Kenya is being the head of the county government, which is the second level of government. The other level of government is the national government.
Article 1 of the Constitution delegates the sovereign power of the people to the County Governments as state organs. The county governments can also exercise this power at the county level.
A County Governor in Kenya is a democratically elected representative who exercises this power indirectly at the county level.
Kenya has 47 county governments, which translates to 47 governors. The county governor is the chief executive of the county and the head of the county executive committee. The members of the county executive committee answer to the governor while performing their functions (Article 179 (6)).
Refer to this article on the requirements to vie for the position of a county governor. It contains the requirements and guidelines necessary for a person to be elected as a county governor.
Also, look at this article on how to impeach a county governor in Kenya. It contains the conditions and procedure for impeaching a county governor.
Let us now look at the role and functions of a County Governor in Kenya.
Role and Functions of a County Governor in Kenya
The County Governments Act contains the role and functions of a county governor in Kenya. Section 30 (2) of the County Governments Act stipulates the functions of the governor. The county
1. The leadership of the county executive
This role of the County Governor in Kenya should be to appoint the county executive committee as stipulated in article 179(2) (b) of the Constitution with the approval of the County Assembly.
He or she should also chair the meetings of the county executive committee. See the article on the county executive committee to find out more about the membership of the county executive committee.
The governor should come up with the portfolio structure for the county executive committee to respond to the functions and competencies that the law assigns and transfers to each county. See the functions of the county governments in Kenya.
By a decision notified in the county gazette, the County
2. Representing the County
The county governor should execute the functions assigned to him or her diligently and exercise the authority that the Constitution and the law provides.
He or she should represent the county in national and international fora and events.
The governor should also represent the county in intergovernmental relations (relations between the national and county governments, and also other counties). The governor is a member of the National and County Government Coordinating Summit and the Council of County Governors.
3. Making, approving, and implementing county policies
The county governor should submit the county plans and policies to the county assembly for approval.
He or she should also consider, approve and assent to bills that the county assembly passes, or refer the same bill back to the assembly.
The county governor also implements these plans and policies together with the county executive committee. Some of these plans and policies include the county budgets, bills, etc. See also the budget process for county governments.
The county governor should submit an annual report to the county assembly on the implementation status of the county policies and plans.
The governor should deliver the annual state of the county address containing such matters county laws may specify.
Lastly, the county governor should sign the notice of all important formal decisions made by the governor or by the county executive committee, and ensure they are published in the county gazette.
Responsibilities of the County Governor in Kenya
In performing the role and functions of a county governor in Kenya, he or she should:
- provide leadership in the county’s governance and development;
- provide leadership to the county executive committee and administration based on the county policies and plans;
- promote democracy, good governance, unity and cohesion within the county;
- promote peace and order within the county;
- advance the competitiveness of the county;
- be accountable for the management and use of the county resources; and
- promote and facilitate citizen participation in the development of policies and plans, and delivery of services in the county.
Powers of the county
governor in Kenya
The powers enable the role and functions of a county governor in Kenya. The County Governments Act contains the powers of the County Governor. Section 31 of the Act designates the following powers to the governor.
The governor can dismiss a county executive member at any time if he or she considers it appropriate or necessary.
Second, the governor could dismiss a county executive member following a resolution passed by the County Assembly (Section 40). However, the High Court declared this section unconstitutional and the Senate is yet to amend the Act to accommodate the ruling.
The governor can appoint an accounting officer for each county department, entity, or decentralized unit of the county government. These accounting officers are the Chief Officers who head the different county departments. A county can have one executive committee member for each department and different chief officers in each department.
Lastly, the governor has the powers necessary to execute the duties of the office of the county governor.
How Many Terms can a governor serve in Kenya?
Article 180 (7) of the Constitution says “a person shall not hold office – (a) as a county governor for more than two terms, or (b) as a deputy county governor for more than two terms.”
What this means is that a governor (or a deputy governor) cannot hold office for more than two consecutive terms (10 years). That is, if a governor (and the deputy governor) is re-elected for a second (five-year) term, he or she cannot vie for the position for the third time.
In the case where the deputy governor assumes office in the absence of the governor (vacancy or impeachment), the deputy governor is deemed to have served a full term as county governor if, at the date on which he or she assumed office, more than two and a half years remain before the date of the next regularly scheduled election. He or she is not deemed to have served a term of office as county governor, in any other case. (Article 182(3) of Kenyan Constitution).