, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – The Cabinet on Thursday resolved to reduce the powers of the Local Government Minister by approving proposed amendments to the law.
Meeting under the chairmanship of President Mwai Kibaki, the Cabinet directed that the Bill to effect the changes be published for consideration by Parliament at its next session.
At a media conference after the meeting, Minister Musalia Mudavadi said the Act had been in the past responsible for the problems within local authorities because the ministers’ discretionary use of these powers had led to an increase in unviable local authorities, lack of their autonomy and inefficiency in the use of public funds.
“This law reduces the powers of the Minister of local government in the creation and overall management of the local authorities,” Mr Mudavadi said.
“Once the amendments are passed, there will be local authorities’ advisory commissions that will always advice the minister on the creation of local authorities. It means that the minister will no longer have the sole power of determining the fate of local authorities,” he added.
He said the amendment would also formalise disaster management units in local authorities to make it legally compulsory for the authorities to have such units.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the amendment was part of on-going constitutional and institutional reforms.
“Due to the importance that the harmonised draft constitution places on devolution, it is inevitable that the country must prepare for effective implementation of devolved governments hence the amendment seeks to democratise local authorities by making them stable, accountable to residents and effective in quality service,” he said.
The amendment would also lead to reduction of the number of nominated councilors from one third of those elected in any local authority to one fifth and also proposes the reduction of the number of local authorities from the current 175.
It would also provide for direct elections of mayors and chairpersons of local authorities and will formalise Nairobi as a metropolitan council.
The city status of Kisumu and Mombasa would also be legitimised.
The Cabinet also approved the holding of a Conference by ministers in charge of meteorological departments. The meeting will be held in Nairobi next January.
It also approved the holding in Nairobi of a meeting to deal with the promotion of Law, Health and security in East Africa.