Kenya shall be changed by ordinary people like you and I who are willing to venture into the uncommon, do things differently and inspire others in the process. Lets join hands in this exciting journey in service to God and Country.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Arming the watchdog: Do MCAs have the capacity to perform?
Devolved government is here
with us and it is an exciting time. It is fulfilling to see the units take
shape. Of interest is that the 47 units of government not only have an
executive to implement the local policies but also have a local elected county
assembly. The County Assemblies are the key institutions in the county that
will represent, legislate and offer oversight in the running of the county. The
Members of the County Assembly (MCA) are elected from each ward and a few more
will be nominated to ensure that there is equitable representation of all
people. This includes women, youth, persons with disability and marginalized
communities in the county. The MCA’s thus have first and foremost
responsibility to ensure that the voice and preference of their constituents is
present at the table of decisions. They secondly have a law and policy making
responsibility. The laws and policies that they make is what makes the work of
the county government possible. It provides the desired end while making
provisions of how to get there. Thirdly they have an oversight role in which
they hold the power to approve, check and follow on every matter being
conducted in the county. Their is to check the powers of the governor.
This therefore means that
MCA’s have a greater mandate than was wielded by their predecessors the
councilors who operated in the local authorities. They have to take this
mandate with the weight it deserves. But standing in their way is their
capacity to handle this mandate. How well do they understand their legislative
and oversight role? What qualifications do they bring to the table of decisions
especially where complex matters of development are concerned? There is also the concern of their remuneration against the work we expect them to play.
In a training I was conducting
for the MCAs of Nakuru County it has emerged that they had very different
expectations in as far as their roles are concerned. Of concern is that some
have not internalized the principle of separation of powers as entrenched in
the constitution. That they will not be able to engage in direct service
delivery is already a matter worrying to many. And one would understand their
dilemma. In a country with nascent political party ideologies and thus no
binding party policies expressed in manifestos, every person seeking election
goes out promising different things. Some of the promises though exciting to
the masses are untenable. So once one is elected, they realize that they have
to honour their promises but cannot do so directly. There are collective plans
and budgets to be made and this means tradeoffs so as to work within the
resource purse available. Their wit in making the budget thus will be of
essence to ensure that they can accommodate other proposals while ensuring that
theirs are equally addressed.
But how equipped are the MCAs
to carry out this mandates. Do they have the expertise or at least access to
expertise to ensure their effectiveness. How well are the County Assembly
Service Boards resourced to ensure that the MCAs have offices to operate from?
In moving forward it emerges that there is a lot that needs to be done. In the
short term there is need for continuous capacity development especially after
the formation of committees. Some of those committees will have to be merged in
some counties given the number of MCAs. The office of the speakers may also
need sufficient support to ensure it has the technical support necessary for
effective performance. In the long term, there may be need to review the
educational and professional qualifications for election of MCAs as well as the
remuneration of this position so as to attract high caliber professionals.