MCAs' push for ward fund, better perks slowly paying off

When Members of the County Assemblies disagreed with Devolution Principal Secretary Teresia Mbaika  during their inaugural consultative forum. [File, Standard]

The push by ward representatives for the financial autonomy of county assemblies by having a development kitty and better perks is slowly paying off.

According to the Association of Members of County Assemblies, Secretary-General Stanley Karanja, President William Ruto has agreed with MCAs about the need for county assemblies to have financial autonomy.

“We presented our grievances to the president during recent leaders' meeting at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri, and he agreed with our demands for financial autonomy and the ward development kitty,” Karanja said.

Karanja, who shared a video clip that captured the president agreeing to the MCAs' demands, said Dr Ruto has agreed to meet them at a later date for further deliberations.

In the video clip, the president is captured expressing his desire for the Senate to expedite the process of making county assemblies financially autonomous for them to effectively carry out their oversight role.

“I want to ask the senate to hasten the process of making counties assemblies financially autonomous, and also forward representatives to have the development kitty,” he said, adding that he was ready to meet the MCAs for further deliberations.

Ward representatives across all 47 devolved units have been up in arms over their reduced perks, the establishment of the Ward Development Fund fully anchored in law at 40 per cent of the county development budgets.

They also want a County Affirmative Action Fund established for Nominated MCAs, further that the county assemblies need to be granted financial autonomy to aid in the effectiveness of execution of their legal mandate in accordance with applicable laws that define their mandate.

They have also been pushing for their remuneration to be reviewed considering the percentages in place at the National Parliament as a realization of equity.

Yesterday, Karanja told the Standard that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) should hasten the process of reinstating their plenary allowance in line with other national and legislative assemblies in the world.

“We know of the meeting between the Senate standing committee on devolution and intergovernmental relations and the SRC on August 21, and we hope that SRC will do the right thing,” Karanja said.

According to a letter seen by The Standard and addressed to the SRC chairperson Lyn Cherop Mengich by the Clerk of the Senate, Mengich is expected to submit documents outlining the criteria and factors that the commission used in determining the remuneration of the MCAs.

The clerk noted that the SRC failed to submit the document on July 27, 2023, when it was requested to do so, and was therefore required to appear before the committee on August 21 for further deliberations of the issues.

The Senate has been working on resolving the issue between the MCAs and SRC, and has also been working on legislation that would see the legislative arm of the devolved units get direct funding from the exchequer.

Nyandarua Senator John Methu who has been working on the legislation is of the view that the only way the constitutional oversight role of the ward representatives can be strengthened is to have the units have separate funding with an accounting officer.

Methu said it was unfortunate that the units have on most occasions found having been compromised at the expense of being yardsticks to the performance of the executive.