Tax hike that sparked MCA’s political career

Kirimukuyu MCA Anthony Ndagita (left) with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga during a past function.
An unfavourable Finance Bill that threatened his business was the catalyst that Anthony Muriithi Ndagita needed to spark his run for the Member of Assembly (MCA).

Ndagita has run a college in Karatina town, Mathira Constituency in Nyeri County since 2012 and that particular time, there was an increase in license fees by the Nyeri County government.

He used to pay Sh15, 000 to Sh20, 000 depending on the level of the development at the college but the new Finance Bill proposed that he would be paying Sh200, 000 as license fees to operate his college.

In addition, the bill required him to be paying Sh1, 000 to the county for every student he enrolled in his college.

“The proposals were absurd and I decided to challenge the county government on how they had arrived at the rates without involving business people and other stakeholders,” he said in an interview.

“I mobilised my fellow business people in Karatina Town and we put the county government on the defensive. We protested and they had no choice but to listen. It was a relief for us. I asked myself did the authors of that law cared about the small business people by proposing such huge amounts as license fees? That is when I made a decision to run as an MCA in order to get the chance of creating business friendly laws,” said Ndagita.

He contested for an MCA in Kirimukuyu Ward where he was born. “I was born and brought up at Karogoto village, attended Ngunguru Primary School and later Kiburu High School. The people of Kirimikuyu had seen me grow from nursery school and so I felt more connected to them. I also felt that if I had to bring anything positive, I would get satisfaction if my own people benefited,” he said.

Ndagita says his decision to run was well met by his family but some friends were apprehensive. They felt he was too soft for politics while others warned him that politics would run down his business. Other friends encouraged him and they supported him to the end.

“Deep inside, I felt I could do it.” On emerging victorious in Jubilee nominations Ndagita says things became more difficult as people assumed, he had been given a lot of money by the party for campaigns but says the party only facilitated its candidates with logistics and material like t-shirts.

“When I was declared the Kirimukuyu Ward MCA elect I didn’t believe it. For three days, I saw like it was something that would go away soon. When we reported at the County Assembly, that is when it dawned on me that I had a responsibility on my shoulders and I started working.”

“I am passionate about agriculture and I was included in the Agriculture Committee. My colleagues had noted my passion and they elected me to chair the Committee,” says Ndagita.

Did he change the mode of making laws as he had wanted? “I realised that there are a lot of procedures and bureaucracy in government issues and one can get easily frustrated. A lot of patience is needed to make things happen as the people you represent pile pressure on you,” says Ndagita.

He says it is complicated for young leaders to balance their electorate’s expectations with their personal life but they don’t have a choice. “People expects you to grace all their social functions and contribute towards their needs. At the same time as a young leader, you want at least to take of your young family. Ensure they have a permanent home, make some investments and secure the education of your children. All these must be balanced,” says the MCA.

The scarcity of resources and non-participation by the electorate in law formulation are some of the challenges he points out as a grassroots leader.

“There are so many needs that need to be addressed but the resources are limited. I feel that a Ward Development Fund similar to CDF can go along way in filling this gap and also accelerate development.”

“A ward is the smallest unit of devolution and thus needs more attention. Currently, development in the ward is controlled more by the Governor as he has got the funds. A Ward Development Fund will also enable MCAs to play their oversight role more effectively without worrying about their wards being sidelined in development issues.”

“Currently, if an MCA is in the wrong books of the Governor, there is a possibility he will not get the attention required in resource allocations,” says Ndagita.

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Finance BillNyeri CountyMathira Constituency