Distributive Justice in Kenya's Development Process: Prospects under a Devolved System of Governance
in PLO Lumumba, Morris Mbondenyi and Tom Kabau (eds), Devolution in Kenya: A Commentary (LawAfrica 2016) 129-170
Posted: 19 May 2016 Last revised: 13 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 16, 2016
The chapter assesses the prospects of achieving distributive justice in Kenya’s development process under the new devolved system of governance. As the authors point out, concern for distributive justice in the allocation of economic and social benefits was one of the core factors that contributed to the establishment of the devolved system of government under the 2010 Constitution, Kenya’s new social contract. In discussing the Kenyan case, the chapter makes special reference to the human rights-based concepts of the right to development, as enshrined in various international legal instruments. The concept of the right to development has the objective of institutionalising distributive justice in economic and social processes at both the international and state levels.
The chapter essentially postulates the thesis that the new devolved system of governance provides a progressive mechanism for the promotion and realisation of distributive justice in Kenya through an enhanced human rights-based approach to development. It particularly assesses the appropriateness of the structures of devolution in providing Kenya with a governance system that enhances opportunities of promoting and fulfilling obligations arising from the right to development. In that context, the significance of devolution in enhancing the prospects of achieving distributive justice in Kenya’s development process is appraised. Notwithstanding the legal, policy and institutional progress achieved through the devolution framework, the chapter acknowledges that effective achievement of distributive justice in Kenya may be hindered by continued ‘conflict of interest’, regardless of the emergence of a new social contract under the 2010 Constitution. Apt examples of the unrelenting ‘conflict of interest’ that include the continued refusal to implement obligations relating to equitable distribution of resources, inefficiency, and widespread corruption in county governments, are evaluated, and possible solutions suggested.
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