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We can bring ugly fisticuffs in county assemblies to an end

By Editorial | August 20th 2020 at 05:00:00 GMT +0300

To mark a clean break with a bleak past, drafters of the 2010 Constitution, among other things, made title changes to some existing public offices.

The Commissioner of Police, for instance, became the Inspector General, ministers became Cabinet secretaries while a councillor was rechristened Member of County Assembly (MCA).

That was meant to signify new beginnings and a paradigm shift in the conduct of elected leaders. For this purpose, Chapter 6 of the Constitution on leadership and Integrity was drafted.

Unfortunately, the rate at which MCAs instigate fights in assembly halls shows they inherited the belligerence of councillors. Only recently MCAs at Nairobi County Assembly engaged in ugly brawls that shocked the nation. On Tuesday, it was the turn of Homa Bay County Assembly where the deputy Speaker was stripped down to his underwear.

Good leaders show tolerance to diverse opinions and demonstrate restraint even when provoked. Fights among MCAs are a manifestation of inability to reason, hence the recourse to physical fights.

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Without doubt, brawn reigns over brains in most county assemblies. With leaders who are always quick to resort to fisticuffs, it is not hard to understand why some counties' development record is wanting.

To contain fights among MCAs, several things should be considered. Senator Kithure Kindiki’s Bill, the County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Bill, 2014 that sought to control the behaviour of the ward representatives should be revisited.

The Bill stipulates that assaulting each other, obstructing, molesting or causing injury to any other member of staff or forcefully compelling others through insults and coercion to either support or decline to support a motion in the chambers is a crime punishable by law.

Raising the academic qualification bar for this cadre of leaders could have a positive impact in taming unnecessary fights.

Indeed, Nairobi Assembly Majority deputy Whip Waithera Chege says failure by some MCAs to grasp the underlying reasons for rulings made by their respective speakers has become a source of friction.

A higher academic entry point is crucial to understanding the law and functions of each constitutional office. Those who elect MCAs deserve better.

County Assemblies Homa Bay County Assembly MCAs
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