Governor Mwadime, MCAs clash over control of bursaries

Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime during a previous press briefing. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard] 

Taita Taveta Governor Andrew Mwadime and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) have differed over the proposed law on ward bursaries.

Yesterday, Mwadime refused to assent to the County Education Fund Bill of 2023 after the MCAs amended it a fortnight ago to strip ward administrators of the powers over the bursaries.

Mwadime was angered by the MCAs' decision to remove education loans and replace ward administrators as bursary secretaries in the wards.

In a memorandum sent to the House yesterday, the governor said he would only sign the Bill into law if the House accommodates his views.

“The ward administrators were picked as secretaries of the ward bursaries committee following public participation conducted in all the 20 electoral wards, and removing them is an irony. As the link between the executive and the assembly, I want them retained,” he said

The House had proposed that the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) would be the only entity to issue loans to students, a move the governor has rejected.

The MCAs want the Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) and Vocational Training Centre (VCT) Supervisors to be secretaries of the bursaries committees at their respective wards.

But Mwadime wants ward administrators to remain as bursary committee secretaries. He said in his memorandum that education loans and ward administrators must be retained.

Another contentious issue the governor opposed is the proposal by the MCAs to have only degree holders in the bursary allocation committee.

Mwadime wants post-secondary education to be the minimum qualification, saying the degree requirement will lock out vulnerable groups like people living with disabilities.

The governor proposed the fund to be managed by a board, Chief Executive Officer or Secretary, but MCAs reviewed it and created the position of the funds administrator.

Mwadime had also suggested the number of the bursary committee be 12, but the MCAs reviewed it downwards to eight.

In the newly approved regulations, the bursary committee would submit the list of beneficiaries, including the amount of money allocated to each beneficiary, for approval by the area MCA.

The governor has also rejected this proposal. “There is no way the governor would have signed the proposed law because this will usurp the powers of the executive arm over management of bursaries,” said one of the executive members.

The memorandum was read by Deputy Speaker Anselim Mwadime, who committed it to early childhood development education, libraries, and vocational training.

According to the revised Act, 82 per cent of the funds shall be expended on bursaries to be disbursed equally  amongst the 20 respective wards, 3 per cent on administrative costs of the board, and 15 per cent on scholarships to deserving students equally.

The Principal Fund Act was enacted in 2014 to create a fund to cater to the education needs of deserving students in the county, with financial needs and exemplary performance as the main parameters of issuing bursaries, scholarships, and education loans to the applicants.

The Act has since been amended in 2016 and 2018 to streamline the provisions of the Act with those of the Public Finance Management Act of 2012.