In this article, we look at the structure of the county government in Kenya. The promulgation of the 2010 Constitution created two tiers of government. The first is the national government and the second is the county government.
The history of devolution in Kenya shows that it has taken us a long journey to reach where we are right now as a country. Devolved governance promises to restore the power to local communities to manage their affairs particularly in matters of local development.
The structure of the county government in Kenya provides an anchor for the counties. This delegation of power and services determines who oversees the administrative, policy, and other functions.
The Structure of the County Government in Kenya
In summary, the structure of the county government in Kenya comprises three arms. They are the County Executive (Committee), the Legislature (County Assembly), and the Public Service (County Public Service Board).
The County Executive Committee
Article 179 of the Constitution provides for the County Executive Committees. The Constitution bestows the executive authority of the county to the county executive committee. The committee also exercises this authority.
The county executive committee consists of—
- the county governor and the deputy county governor; and
- members the county governor appoints, with the approval of the assembly, from among persons who are not members of the assembly.
The number of members the governor appoints above, with county assembly approval, should not exceed-
- one-third of the number of members of the county assembly, if the assembly has less than thirty members; or
- ten if the assembly has thirty or more members.
The county governor and the deputy county governor are the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the county, respectively.
When the county governor is absent, the deputy county governor should act as the county governor.
Members of a county executive committee are accountable to the county governor while performing their functions and exercising their powers.
These appointed members are like basically “county ministers” or “county cabinet secretaries”. They head the various departments of the county government such as finance, health, agriculture, etc.
If a vacancy arises in the office of the county governor, the members of the county executive committee cease to hold office. See the process to impeach a county governor in Kenya.
See the role and functions of the county executive committee in Kenya to learn more about the county executive committee.
Also, check out the functions of the county governor in Kenya.
Other members of the county executive
Other members of the county executive are-
- the County Secretary, who is the secretary to the county executive committee.
- a county chief officer who is responsible to the respective county executive committee member for the administration of a county department.
The governor nominates chief officers from among persons competitively sourced and recommended by the County Public Service Board.
The County Assembly
In the structure of the county government in Kenya, the county assembly is the legislative arm. A county assembly consists of—
- members elected by the registered voters of the wards (elected MCAs);
- the number of special seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender (nominated MCAs, usually women);
- the number of members of marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities and the youth, prescribed by an Act of Parliament (nominated MCAs, six of them according to the County Governments Act); and
- the County Assembly Speaker, who is an ex officio member.
Political parties nominate members to fill the gender and marginalised groups positions based on the proportion to the seats received in that election in that county by each political party.
Therefore, the more the elected seats a political party has in the Assembly, the more members it can nominate. The opposite applies to political parties with fewer elected members.
The filling of special seats to meet the two-thirds gender rule should occur after the declaration of elected members from each ward.
A county assembly serves a term of five years.
See the role of the County Assembly in Kenya and the role of the Members of the County Assembly in Kenya to learn about them.
Other Members of the County Assembly
Other members of the county assembly are-
- the deputy speaker who is nominated from among the elected MCAs, and
- the clerk of the county assembly, whose functions are similar with modifications to those of the national assembly clerk.
The County Public Service
Article 235 of the Constitution contains the provision for the staffing of county governments. According to this law, every county should have its own public service known as the county public service.
Article 235 stipulates that the county government is responsible for–
- establishing and abolishing offices in its public service;
- appointing persons to hold or act in those offices, and confirming appointments; and
- exercising disciplinary control over and removing persons holding or acting in those offices.
Part VII of the County Governments Act contains detailed information on the county public service as a component of the structure of the county governments in Kenya.
The “county public service” means the collectivity of all individuals performing functions within any department of the county government or its agency. However, it does not include the governor, deputy governor, members of the county executive committee and the members of the county assembly.
The County Public Service Board is in charge of county public service and staffing matters. The County Secretary is the head of the County Public Service.
See a rough pictorial representation of the structure of the county government in Kenya here.