Concerns are emerging that corruption has fast devolved into the counties because governors have failed to attract and/or retain qualified personnel to professionally run the governments.
Professionals, particularly in finance, are shying away from county jobs due to fears of being coerced to make decisions to suit certain interests in disregard of the law.
Those who opt to stick to their guns in following due process are harassed by governors, speakers and members of county assemblies.
Others, especially those eyeing senior positions, decline county offers because the pay is “low” compared to what they earn elsewhere.
As a result, many governors keep on re-advertising for vacant positions and have at times had to recruit people without the requisite skills to effectively discharge their mandate.
Governors Julius Malombe (Kitui), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) and Isaac Ruto (Bomet) are among those who have confirmed that attracting qualified manpower in the counties is not a walk in the park.
The perception that many counties prefer to hire people from their dominant ethnic communities has made the situation worse.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has already raised the red flag with statistics showing that some counties, like Nandi and Kirinyaga, have employed people from only one ethnic group.
Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo said the skewed recruitment poses a threat to national cohesion.
No extensive training
Governor Malombe admitted before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee that he operates with internal audit staff without extensive training.
According to the Auditor-General’s report, the two employees and a clerk had not been inducted and the department had no internal audit charter to guide its operations.
The Senate committee, chaired by Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, noted that the reports of this department were mainly memos to the management as opposed to those deliberated and enforced by an audit committee, as required by law.
“The department does not meet its obligations due to inadequate staffing,” the Auditor-General’s report indicated.
The governor said they have improved the department to comply with the law though, just like other counties, they are faced with the challenge of attracting professionals with the requisite skills.
“We have an audit system now in place. Interestingly, we advertised but getting people was a tall order due to salary levels. They are low on qualifications and experience desired,” Dr Malombe said.
Counties are expected to establish audit committees that convene at least quarterly to discuss, enforce and implement the findings and recommendations of the internal audit department.
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said county governments had not put in place functional systems to attract professionals.
“Due to the weak systems, professionals find it difficult to discharge their duties because they are directed to do things in a certain way,” Mr Omar said.
The Senate committee noted that breach of procedures especially in procurement affects virtually all counties, according to the annual Auditor-General’s reports.
But the challenges notwithstanding, governors are optimistic the effects of devolution have been felt on the ground, through improved services.
“Counties have done well since inception of the devolved units. We can do much better if the national government can stop fighting devolution and ensure the Treasury releases county funds on time,” Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya said.