Democratic transition and the chief's office in Ndia constituency of Kirinyaga county in Kenya, 1991 to 2010
Kinyua, Simon Maina
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Good governance means the effectiveness with which a government performs its work and promotes the public good. The study on the chief's office in the light of the re-emergence of multi-party politics and democratic transition in Kenya is a response to circumstantial criticism of the chiefs. At one point, the different political parties and parliamentary aspirants are great opponents of the Provincial Administration, the structure under which the chief's office fall and often call for its abolishment. The study therefore set to highlight some of the factors that make these one-time opponents of Provincial Administration close allies of the same some other times. Government organization and activity is requisite to successful development in the Third World. The data enumerated shows that the chiefs were at times forced to do against their will especially immediately after multiparty politics were reintroduced in 1991. Some were able to rise to the challenges of their office and at the same time remain dear to the citizens. The legacy of the operations of the office during the one-party era seems to have spilled over into the era after multi-partism was re-introduced. This provided the locphole for the party in power to have its party policies being implemented by the chiefs thereby blurring the distinction between party politics and administration. This would in turn elicit a lot of anger and condemnation from the parties that were not part of the government. The concluction of elections is by itself not enough to foster democracy. While multi-party elections may be symptomatic of the reduction of the more overt repressive character of the authoritarian state, it may hide beneath it processes of political exclusion, discrimination, manipulation, corruption and mismanagement of public resources. Majority of the respondents said they overwhelmingly voted for the patty that was perceived to represent their region. The parliamentary contest ended almost with the nominations because the party chosen by the 'big man' assured the candidates of sailing through during the General Elections. Year 2007 General Elections proved a tough one for many because there were so many parties allied to the 'big man'. The office of the chief found itself with even more pressure from the contestants. Since 1992, the Ndia region of the study has experienced shifting party orientation. DP was perceived as one of "their own" because its leader and presidential candidate, Mwai Kibaki, came from the neighboring Nyeri county. From the data collected, there is also evidence that some chiefs secretly supported the "opposition parties" because they belonged to one. of "their own." In theory, parties are vital instruments in the democratic and electoral process in a country but in Ndia parties that dominated during our period of the study had an ethnio orientation. The chiefs were torn between loyalty to the office and political wave within the region of the study during the KANU reign 1991 to 2002. The situation was further complicated by interpersonal relationship with the candidates for the various parties and desires of some the chiefs. The study utilized guided oral interviews, library and archival research to gather data. Various theories were utilized; however, some could not be effectively used in the analysis as earlier planned. We concluded by asserting that the central roles of the chief and the sheer magnitude of day-to-day issues tackled by the chief justifies the continuity of the office but professionalization is imperative to make it serve a democratic state.