Governors, MCAs among key winners in revised document
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Steering Committee has dropped an initial requirement that governors and their deputies be of the opposite gender.
Instead, the new team chaired by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and former Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru, has given governors leeway to pick their deputies from either gender.
The change of heart follows sustained pressure and opposition mainly from male governors who had termed the earlier proposal as unfair.
In the last General Election, only governors Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and the late Joyce Laboso (Bomet) succeeded in capturing county seats that have remained male-dominated.
The country currently has eight female deputy governors, among them Evalyn Aruasa Chepkurui (Narok), Fatuma Mohamed Achami (Kwale), Susan Kikwai Chepkoech (Kericho) and Adelina Mwau Ndeto (Makueni).
Others are Caroline Karugu (Nyeri), Majala Mlagui Delina (Taita Taveta), Cecilia Wanjiru Mbuthia (Nyandarua) and Yulita Mitei Chebotip (Nandi).
The bill was launched yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at Kenyatta International Conference.
The taskforce, however, proposes MCAs be considered for appointment to the County Executive Committees (CECs), which the governors had vehemently opposed.
The proposal was fronted by Ward Reps through their County Assemblies Forum (CAF), arguing that just the same way the BBI report proposes that Cabinet ministers be picked from Members of Parliament, they too should be allowed to serve in their respective counties’ Cabinet.
“The amendments offer leeway for the governor to appoint members of a county assembly into the CEC,” the bill states, adding that this will enable county governors to be accountable to their respective assemblies in the discharge of their functions.
If endorsed by Kenyans, the amendments will also give a governor powers to dismiss or reassign their CEC members.
CEC does not automatically vacate office, when the office of the county governor becomes vacant.
The bill also proposes an Act of Parliament to establish a county assembly fund, whose monies will be drawn from the county revenue funds.
MCAs have been pushing for such a fund, to grant them financial autonomy, which they argue will enable them to play their oversight role effectively.
The bill also retained the proposal to create the Ward Development Fund which shall amount to at least five per cent, of all the county government’s revenue in each financial year.
The fund will ensure equitable distribution and development in the wards of money allocated or collected by the county government.
However, deputy governors ended up empty handed after the draft bill failed to entrench their specific roles in the Constitution.
Several governors had vehemently opposed the demand to have the roles of their deputies entrenched in the Constitution on grounds that it might be used to undermine them.
The bill also seeks to change the nomination of candidates to county assemblies, from being based on seats won to votes received by a political party in an election.
Further, it seeks to align the term of county assemblies to the election cycle and provide that the special top-up seats shall expire after 10 years.
The bill also proposes to amend Article 188 to remove the voting by delegation in the Senate as a consequential amendment following the proposed repeal of Article 123.
“This consequently results in members of the Senate having an equal vote.
The amendment originates from a proposed amendment of Article 98 that equalises representation of the counties in the Senate, hence making the concept of voting by delegation moot,” it says.
At the same time, the draft bill proposes to amend Article 98 to structure the membership of the Senate to achieve gender parity.
“It is proposed for the Senate to have 94 members, each county represented by a woman and a man elected by voters in the counties,” proposes the bill.
It also proposes to amend Article 96 (Role of the Senate) to enhance the oversight role of the Senate, on matters relating to all county revenues and their expenditures.
According to the bill, the existing provision only gives the Senate the oversight role on the national revenue allocated to the county governments and does not expressly extend such mandate to counties’ own source of revenue and borrowings and their expenditures.