BY PASCAL MWANDAMBO
The new constitution has brought in a new breed of leadership in the country and counties and the villagers in Mavumbi County where I was born and brought up are warming up and struggling to keep in step with the changing times.
It has not been easy for an ordinary rustic to know the different roles that a governor, senator and an MP are supposed to play, but that does not mean the villagers have been sitting down as mere ignoramuses.
They have been learning both through radio, TV as well as grapevine, on who is who in the new county government pecking order.
However, suffice to say that one person whose glamour has been severely eroded is the local member of parliament.
Gone are the days when an MP would bestride the constituency like a colossus , dishing out money, issuing decrees and threatening errant public servants as if they were nursery school kids.
The MP now has to tug along with the senator and governor to boost his ego and his word is no longer law as it were a few years back.
What is even more unnerving is that even the illiterate village bumpkin has realized that an MP is now a mere number three in the county leadership hierarchy.
In fact the number of villagers who used to flock to the local MPs office like moths moving towards a lantern to ask for handouts and other favours has now reduced drastically.
This might sound like good news to the politicians as it is a burden off their shoulders, but remember our leaders also have an ego that needs to be regularly massaged.
On the other hand, the governors have their hands full addressing issues of all kinds, ranging from squabbles between cuckolds and their wives as well as chicken thieves, cases which ideally should be addressed by local chiefs and village elders.
In fact I felt pity for our MPs when I overheard a bunch of market women commenting that an MPs position has now reached almost the same level as a councilor( read county assembly representative).
“Siku hizi wabunge hawana pesa kabisa, wameshindwa na magovernor,” the women said before breaking into a hearty laughter ,capping it with a thunderous “high five”.
But probably no other villager feels better placed to discuss these political matters better than my cousin Timotheo.
This chap has a penchant for getting things upside down, but he never shies from discussing issues which are clearly beyond his level of comprehension.
This gets even more ridiculous when he is high on something cheap. Before the price of cheap keg sold in mugs (also known as vuta pumzi) went up, Timotheo aka Timo, would imbibe the stuff and then regale the listeners with political tales, you would think he was a student of political science.
Now with both the price and colour of vuta pumzi having changed for the worse, my dear cousin Timo has resorted to drinking a wicked spirit called Je(ze)bel, which he dilutes with water, for lack of anything better to take the stuff with.
However, the end results are the same given that more often than not, the hidden Timo comes out and holds the whole drinking den at ransom, explaining not only the roles of governors, senators and MPs are playing, but also their remunerations.
High on Je(ze)bel but very low on reasoning, Timo will screw his eyes like a political pundit of substance and blurt, “I swear, the governor earns more than 2 million shillings a month, followed by the senator with 1.5 million while the MP and ward rep each earn sh 500,000. I tell you, the governor is the toughest guy in town,”. He will look around for applause, which he gets.
He will go on: “The governor is the president of the county. His salary is enough to open a hundred bars in this village and stock them fully,” he will say, you might think he is entitled to a fixed percentage of the governor’s perks.
But that is neither here nor there. The fly in the ointment is that my villagers, save from confused drunks like Timo, have not yet fully realized the fruits of devolution. The market place is still sodden with mud after the heavy rains set in despite the fact that our poor traders, mostly women, have to sit on the bare ground and spread their wares on the soggy mess.
The public toilets are a stinking mess despite a fee of Sh10 being charged for long and short calls combined.
So as daydreamers like Timo revel in the huge perks of the likes of my senator Zindua Miradi, which do not benefit him in any way, many a resident of Mavumbi County cannot stop wondering when the gravy train of devolution is going to be tasted by the larger populace. In fact methinks I should sit down with Timo and his related ilk and give them a serious lecture on how not to revel on things that do not add value to the lives of many.. .