Why Speakers must guide MCAs wisely

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 19:47 | By
Battle lines drawn for top county posts in Siaya, Kericho and Migori
Siaya County Assembly. PHOTO/Courtesy

Now that most counties have elected their Assembly Speakers, it is time for devolved governments to get down to work and embark on implementing the programmes candidates promised during election campaigns.  It will call for sobriety during debates and for rationality in the allocation of resources, including development funds. Only through way shall counties serve the electorate as envisioned in the Constitution.

For Assemblies to run their day-to-day businesses effectively, they need strong and impartial Speakers with the wisdom and patience to guide debate so that they do not degenerate into pointless shouting matches, especially in regions where political formations are sharply divided.

As such, a great deal of responsibility lies on the shoulders of Speakers to ensure that Members of County Assemblies give value to their electorate on the one hand and create working relationships with governors on the other. Assembly Speakers, therefore, have a critical role to play to ensure the success of devolution considering for instance, that they will guide debate on resource allocation and shepherd the oversight role of Assemblies.

The period for political acrimony is slowly but surely coming to an end. Speakers should, therefore, aim to help politicians from different divides to close ranks and serve citizens. Speakers ought, therefore, to at all times bear in mind that public expectation on both national and devolved governments is high. Those that will embark on harmonious working relationships among elected leaders will reap the benefits of growth and, most likely be rewarded with renewed mandates in 2027. Those that will be bogged down by wrangles, unfortunately, will lag behind as the rest of the country marches forward.

County Assembly Speakers should borrow a leaf from the Senate, where the Speaker has already promised to end the acrimony that divided Senators and MPs in the past.  The Speaker has pledged to work for harmony between the two Houses for the benefit of citizens. This is as it should be. And if the Senate — which is the primary defender of devolution — gets its working formula right, then counties will naturally be expected to follow suit.

The time to show leadership is now, and in addition to other leaders elected directly by voters, those elected by MCAs must also rise to the challenge and demonstrate that they have what it takes to discharge their mandates as envisaged by law for the benefit of their counties and the people.

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