MCAs pile pressure on House over ward fund
By Kennedy Gachuhi and Antony Gitonga | November 11th 2020
County Assemblies have petitioned the national government to pass the Ward Development Fund (WDF) Bill.
County Assemblies Forum (CAF) chairperson Ndegwa Wahome gave a six months ultimatum to the National Assembly to pass the WDF Bill 2018 which was shot down amid claims of supremacy battles between MCAs and Members of Parliament.
“The WDF Bill was not factored in the Building Bridges Initiative report. We want it to be anchored in the Constitution. If MPs will not pass it in six months or included in BBI we shall move to court and have orders allowing counties to legally have the Fund operationalised countrywide,” he said.
The MCAs joined governors and their deputies in Naivasha, for the second-day consultative meeting to deliberate on the BBI.
They have demanded an enhancement of the five per cent of revenue to be allocated to WDF as proposed by the BBI report.
“Allocating five per cent to WDF after receiving 35 per cent of national revenue is not enough. We want the amount to be increased to 30 per cent to spur substantial development,” said Ndegwa.
CAF opposed the proposal which was passed by the National Assembly in 2016. The law is to apply in the 2022 polls if no changes are made.
“We want WDF to be managed in a similar structure as the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF). MCAs will not be walking around with the millions but play the role of a patron,” he said.
Although academic qualifications for vying for the position of Ward Rep are not in the BBI report, a section of the governors have proposed the minimum requirement to be a bachelors degree.
The governors argued that the MCAs should have requisite academic papers owing to the huge amounts of money that they will control under WDF.
Ndegwa demanded that county executive members be picked from the assembly just like the BBI report proposes that some Cabinet Secretaries be drawn from Parliament.
“We also want half of the CECs to be appointed from the county assemblies. This is in the spirit of devolution and assigning roles to people who were directly given the mandate by the people,” said Ndegwa.
CAF secretary general Kipkorir Chepkwony said having academic papers does not translate to service delivery in elective positions.
“Limiting a person who has inborn leadership qualities from vying for an MCA seat based on education is not fair. Before the 2010 Constitution, we had councilors and mayors who were not educated yet they left a good legacy,” said Mr Chepkwony.
The MCAs also want county assemblies budgets to be independent of the county executive to allow them effectively perform their oversight role.
Chepkwony explained that lack of financial independence has seen some of the governors hold the county assemblies at ransom to pass their agenda failure to which they are threatened with budget cuts.
“The counties will be receiving more billions and this requires stronger oversight bodies. The county assemblies budgets are currently joined to the hip of governors interfering with our independence,” he said.
This will be realised through the establishment of the County Assemblies Fund which will further require the National Assembly to review the Public Finance Management Act.
“Once the Fund is created and operationalised, the county assemblies will not be party to the County Revenue Fund controlled by the Finance Executive member,” he said.
Battle on level ground
The CAF secretary general backed the proposal to have governors pick the opposite gender as running mate but said this should only be provided for in a stipulated time frame.
“We support the idea of having the opposite gender as a running mate to increase the chances of women getting leadership posts. However it should be applied for say ten years after which they can battle on level ground,” said Chepkwony.
They also threw their weight behind deputy governors who are seeking to have a law compelling governors to assign them ministries to run.
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