County Assembly criterion divides MPs

February 16, 2012 1:42 pm
Parliament resumed debate on the County Government Bill on Thursday/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – Parliament resumed debate on the County Government Bill on Thursday, with MPs differing on the minimum education qualification for a County Assembly member and the threshold required for removing the county governor and speaker.

Currently, the Bill says that a member of the County Assembly needs to marshal at least one third support to initiate the process of removing a governor. A two thirds majority will then be required to sustain such removal.

While some members wanted the Bill amended to cap the threshold for impeaching the governor and speaker at a two thirds majority, others opposed the move, saying it would create dictators at the county level.

Garsen MP Danson Mungatana wanted both processes to require two-thirds majority, but it was opposed by Ikolomani’s Boni Khalwale and Kamukunji’s Yusuf Hassan who claimed that Mungatana’s argument was driven by his desire to become and stay a governor.

But Mungatana denied the accusation saying it was unfair for Khalwale to personalise such a critical issue.

Khalwale wanted a one-third voting threshold for initiating the process of removal of the governor retained to make it easy for the removal of corrupt governors. He also wanted that of the speaker raised to avoid mischief from the county assembly representatives.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua said the County Assembly speaker should be protected to enable him operate without fear. She however supported the retention of voting threshold on the governor saying his removal should remain at two thirds majority.

The legislators also differed on the academic qualifications of county representatives with Mungatana and Khalwale pushing to have the minimum post-secondary requirement removed to leave it open for the electorate to decide.

But Karua and North Horr MP Chachu Ganya objected saying this will lower the quality of service delivery.

“The qualifications should remain post-secondary; these are no longer mere councillors, they mirror the National Assembly. They are the people who will approve the budget, expenditure and borrowing of the county, when you look at those roles you wouldn’t want to go below those qualifications because they need to have the knowhow,” Karua argued.

Mungatana also called for an amendment to the 50-50 gender balance requirement for the County Assembly, arguing that it should ape the conditions set for the Senate and National Assembly.

However, Karua supported the Bill, saying that the number of female and male members of the county executive committee should be equal.

The MPs described the law as ‘the mother of devolution’.

MPs also said that there was need to make it clear in law that officers of the provincial administration will be redeployed to work under the governor.

They said the DCs, DOs and even Chiefs should be renamed as County Coordinators and they would be in charge of security in the counties.

On his part, Wilbur Otichilo (Emuhaya) proposed an amendment to provide for budgetary allocation for research and data collection for informed planning at the counties.

“Without information, there cannot be effective planning,” said Otichilo adding that there was need for the Bill to provide for public participation.


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