One of the most important elective positions in Kenya is that of a county governor. The county governor is 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 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.
Powers of the county governor
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 (e.g. Chief Officer in charge of Agriculture, Health, etc.).
Lastly, the governor has the powers necessary to execute the duties of the office of the county governor.
Functions of the County Governor
Section 30 (2) of the County Governments Act stipulates the functions of the governor. The county governor should:
- execute the functions diligently and exercise the authority that the Constitution and the law provides;
- perform State functions within the county that the President may assign from time to time on the basis of mutual consultations;
- represent the county in national and international fora and events;
- appoint, with the approval of the county assembly, the county executive committee in accordance with Article 179(2)(b) of the Constitution;
- 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.
- submit the county plans and policies to the county assembly for approval;
- consider, approve and assent to bills that the county assembly passes;
- chair the meetings of the county executive committee;
- by a decision notified in the county gazette, assign to every member of the county executive committee responsibility to ensure the performance of any function within the county and the provision of related services to the people.
- submit an annual report to the county assembly on the implementation status of the county policies and plans;
- deliver annual state of the county address containing such matters county laws may specify; and
- sign 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 performing the functions stated above, the county governor 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.