Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Interface between Formal and Informal Systems of Horizontal Accountability in Kenya's State-Owned Enterprises 1

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Interface between Formal and Informal Systems of Horizontal Accountability in Kenya's State-Owned Enterprises 1

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION

Accountability is a core function of democratic government. When in place, it ensures that public officials account for their actions and decisions, so as to guarantee government initiatives meet their stated objectives and respond to the needs of the community they are meant to benefit. This contributes to better governance and greater prosperity for the society being governed. There are two primary dimensions of accountability, the vertical and the horizontal. In democracies, vertical accountability is most commonly expressed at the ballot box, where voters reward or punish public officials based on their perceived performance. Yet elections are few and far between. How can a political system ensure accountability on a more regular basis, monitoring the performance of government officials more closely than the common voter can manage? The majority of African countries have gone through three phases of governance in which their citizens did not experience a high degree of accountable and transparent governance. After a short spell of liberal democracy after independence, some of them experienced military rule, others one party systems and only Botswana and Mauritius managed to retain democratic structures which ensured responsible representational democracy through which the executive remained accountable to the representative bodies whose members were elected by their citizens. Kenya was among countries which went through one party, one leader systems after a short period of multiparty politics 1963-1979. As a result of this experience Kenya has had one of the longest struggles for constitutional reforms which started immediately after independence in 1963, intensified with the onset of the one party system in 1982 and culminated in the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. The new constitution has been hailed as a model because of its human rights approach that safeguards individual and community rights. It provides for a devolution framework aimed at increasing citizen participation at local and county levels. It has provision for a strict division of tasks and separation of powers between the main pillars of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Twelve constitutional commissions are embedded in the constitution to protect the rights of various sections of the public service, individual and collective rights, special services such as police, teachers and the judiciary, social movements etc. Commissions on human rights, national integrity and transparency, land and national cohesion are also in place aimed at preventing the continuation of abuses, inequality, inequity and other causes of bad governance which were rampant in the past. The detailed and meticulous nature of these provisions distinguishes the Kenyan Constitution from those of other countries in the Eastern African region. Most significant however, are provisions aimed at accountability between the three pillars of government and between these organs of the state and the public. This has to be ensured through popular participation and channels of accountability between the three pillars of government.

Under Article 196 County Governments are required to conduct their business in a participatory and open manner involving consultative processes at which information on public affairs is disclosed and the public is facilitated to contribute to policy discussions and the legislative process. Counties are required under Article 201(a) to conduct their financial and other business with optimum openness and accountability, including public participation in financial affairs. At national level, Article 232 provides for citizen participation in the policy making processes and accountability and transparency in public service delivery. In addition Chapter 6 of the Constitution requires the enactment of laws that will ensure transparency and integrity in the political, economic and administrative governance of the country in order to rid the country of the problems of corruption. …

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