MPs reject bid to put village elders on state payroll

An elder displays his ID card during a past event. [Paul Mutua, Standard]

The bid to have village elders recognized and draw allowances from the state has been dealt a blow by a parliamentary committee.

The National Government Coordination Amendment Bill 2023 sought to have the creation of village councils comprising elders and headed by a village administrator as part of the national government service delivery unit.

“The National government shall in respect of every village unit establish village councils headed by a village administrator, and appoint such village elders to the village council as may be necessary for purposes of coordination of national government functions,” reads the Bill.

The Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security however deemed the Bill unnecessary, stating that it seeks to enact legislation that is already in place.

The Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo-led committee, in its report said that the need for the creation of village administrative units and establishment of additional offices should be dependent on necessity as determined by the Ministry of Interior and National Coordination and the availability of funds.

According to the Bill by Malava MP Moses Injendi, village administrators were to be designated as chairpersons of the village council, which would have not less than three and not more than five village elders.

The Bill proposes that the elders be competitively appointed by the village administrator with the approval of the county assembly, taking into account gender balance.

The MP sought to have the village councils established in line with the counties laws and if adopted by Parliament, the Public Service Commission would appoint a village administrator in respect of each village unit and be paid “such allowances as may be determined by the Public Service Commission”.

The move would have seen the village councils recognized alongside county commissioners for every county, deputy county commissioner for each sub-county, and assistant county commissioner for every ward, chiefs, and assistant chiefs.

“The committee having scrutinized the Bill, recommends that the House should not pass the Bill as it seeks to enact legislation which is already in place,” reads the committee’s report.

The committee argued that according to section 14 (3) of the National Government Coordination Act, the law already permits the national government to establish administrative units under section 48 of the County Government Act.

It further noted that its stand against the Bill was informed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s submission that his ministry had already initiated the process of retransmitting the draft National Government Coordination Amendment Bill 2021 which addresses the involvement of the village in public governance to the office of the Attorney General for drafting and advisory purposes.

The National Government Coordination Amendment Bill 2021 was drafted and approved by the Cabinet in 2022 but was not enacted into law.

According to the report, Prof Kindiki also submitted that the ministry had constituted an ad hoc committee to formulate the policy and institutional framework to regulate additional national government administrative units and determine financial implications in the involvement and recruitment of the village elders in public governance.

“The amendments to the existing National Government Coordination Act 2013 by the National assembly are minor and specifically on the involvement of the village in public governance, while the government-sponsored draft proposed amendments to the act is substantive. Therefore, it is the ministry’s view that the private member bill be deferred or await the redrafting of the proposed amendments,” he submitted.

Injendi however maintained that the Bill should be passed to allow for the expedient recognition of village elders and also proposed that they be paid Sh3,000 each.