Kenya: Chiefs are necessary in the management of public affairs
Most Kenyans hate the provincial administration today in reference to their colonial history. The provincial commissioners, district commissioners, district officers and chiefs were used by Kenya’s post-independence government to manage the people in both urban and rural areas.
Now with the new constitution in place, some Kenyans are of the view that the provincial administration should be disbanded while others still support the continuity of the colonial system.
Others support that chiefs be retained while provincial commissioners, district commissioners and district officers should be eradicated.
Those who are opposed to the institution of chiefs in Africa and in Kenya particularly, argue that many chiefs are a burden to their people, bossy, corrupt, autocratic, dictatorial, tyrannical, authoritarian and antithetical to democracy as it is understood today.
In Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Botswana among other African countries, most chiefs are respected members of their communities and they provide necessary administrative services.
Kenya’s provincial administration and internal security assistant minister Mr. Joshua Orwa Ojode, supports the continuity of chiefs in Kenya’s administrative system.
Mr. Ojode says that chiefs are necessary for security purposes, with most of them being law-abiding, hardworking and honest citizens.
He added that every day, 70 per cent of Kenyans solve their disputes and problems through chiefs’ informal courts. Chiefs work with council of elders as mediators of violent conflict and disputes, and their popularity in the society depends on their leadership and integrity.
Traditionally, in every part of the African continent, chiefs are the true representatives of the people. They are accessible, respected and legitimate.
They are still essential to the new political dispensation in Kenya regardless of what most urban population say on the role of chiefs in the 21st century.
As we implement the new constitution, Kenyans should be very careful not to destroy working institutions for the sake of change which we don’t understand.
Institutions which have served us well over the years should not be destroyed to please foreigners or merely to copy other constitutions which are not relevant to Kenya’s political landscape.
Therefore Kenyans need to implement the new constitution soberly and cautiously so that we maintain the country’s political stability, peace and unity which are essential in the search for greater heights of development and prosperity as clearly spelt out in Kenya’s Vision 2030.