TI-Kenya’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) Nairobi conducted a civic education forum on civilian oversight leadership and integrity at Kithaayoni market, Machakos County. The forum was meant to equip the citizens in the county with knowledge and skills on their roles, expectations and principles of leadership envisaged under Chapter 6 of the Constitution. The forum was also meant to equip the citizens with the variety of ways in which they can monitor, scrutinize or question their leaders’ actions.
The forum also acted as an empowering tool to the citizens, to enable them to take an active role in the governance of their local area. More so, the forum helped the citizens understand the plight and need for them to hold their leaders to account, this is because leaders among them their chiefs and assistant chiefs’ make decisions which affect them.
During the forum, our officers noted that some of the members of the public had a genera idea of the work undertaken by TI-Kenya and believed that the war on corruption can be won through proper sensitization to the public on how and where to report corrupt officials.
TI-Kenya officers took the members of the public through the essentials of civilian oversight and enlightened on the issues that they should exercise oversight over. They were particularly interested in leadership and integrity, and the methods in which they can conduct oversight over their leaders.
Those present in the forum were very supportive of the devolution agenda as through devolution services were brought closer to them. They however emphasized that for these services to be brought to them, there was great need for them to attend public participation forums so as to be part of the discussions and be able to air their grievances on the matters that directly affect them.
Members of the public raised concerns that most of the times their inputs during the public participation forums are rarely put into consideration and that the calls for citizen participation are not well circulated within the regions hence the forums are not well attended. They suggested that the public participation advertisements should use all channels of communication to ensure a wide range of people are reached and attend the forums.
Those present were taken through various skits on leadership and integrity and afterwards queried on the various issues brought out in the skits and how these issues could be addressed. Some of the issues raised were:
- Monitoring and evaluation of county projects. It was difficult for the citizens to track and monitor the county projects.
- There is improved Access to Information the county, however, it is still difficult for citizens in the county to get information especially on development projects.
- There is a lack of awareness of the relevant devolution Laws including the Constitution itself.
- The community lacks knowledge of the roles that should be performed by their leaders.
- The members of the public stated that the biggest threat to devolution was the rampant corruption being experienced all over the country.
- There is lack of consultations by the county government while undertaking certain projects.
- The citizens also stated that there was huge unemployment in the area, and the local area leaders are not doing enough to create opportunities.
The forum helped the citizens to learn public oversight and the importance of citizens taking active role in their local governance.