DARAJA

DARAJA

Why inadequate citizen knowledge of the Constitution is the recipe for corruption in Kenya. When the Constitution of Kenya was promulgated on 27th August 2010, every Kenyan had high prospects that it was the right tool to dock corruption and shift the design of governance in the country. The decentralization of government's functions through devolution instilled prospects of citizen-centered development at the grassroots level. The Constitution of Kenya provides legal avenues for active citizen participation in governance. Article 1, Article 10 (2) (a) (b), Article 174 (c) (d), Article 196 (b), and Article 232 (d) are some of the legal entries in the Constitution that call for citizen participation in different governance processes. The 14th function of the county government calls for the enhancement of the capacity of local citizens to participate in governance. However, no matter how common it may appear to a particular class of citizens, this information is not common among the common mwananchi. We can attest to that from our 15 years of experience working in informal settlements. Most of the citizens pay little attention to the contents of the Constitution unless with the help of the civic educators. This gap has provided an avenue for county governments to loot from the public coffers through the budget process. The citizens are not aware of the approved projects in their localities and the avenues for follow-up. This increases the vulnerability of public funds to be squandered by county government officials. A recent report by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) on Kenya County Budget Transparency survey indicates a mini- score of 33%, which is way below average. This indicates that the county governments do not furnish the citizens with timely information on key budget documents to enable participation. Accountability is, in this case, threatened. Informed citizens can activate article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya and demand the timely release of such key documents. They should be made available through the county government websites or respective county assembly websites. Access to this information is instrumental in keeping the duty-bearers on toes and ensuring accountability in the use of public resources.