The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, the County Governments Act and the Public Finance Management Act require public participation in matters of public finance. However, these legal instruments do not provide any further guidance on how participation should be achieved. This has exposed the provisions to abuse with little or no meaningful engagement of the citizens.
Some counties have developed progressive legislations to guide the public participation process. However it has been observed that the process is just cosmetic and the county governments conduct the exercise as a ‘checkbox’ and not interested in the inputs from the public and their views are not considered in the final documents.
Nevertheless, citizens may not effectively participate in fiscal decision making since public finance is perceived to be technical and complex. It is assumed that only the technocrats and treasury experts can influence public finance decisions. The low capacity by citizens to safeguard rights as well as their low levels of awareness on rights implies that citizen spaces are open and vulnerable to both elite capture as well as by other groups with varied interests, thus crowding-out the voices of the “wananchi”. Corruption therefore goes on as citizens’ watch helplessly.
“Wajibu Wangu Campaign” seeks to stir dialogue among the citizens in Murang’a and Kiambu counties (19 Sub-counties) which will be captured by the media and propelled through social media into perpetuity. This pilot project will be replicated in many other counties in future to cover the whole country. Corrupt leaders will have nowhere to hide because factual analysis discussions will be at the grassroot levels and also in the social media space.