Unaccountable MCAs and a National Government in Hiding
By Ali Edin,
The 4th Legislative Summit in Kisumu ended with no single invited dignitaries attending. The President was expected to give the keynote address on Monday when the Summit opened but he didn’t show up and neither did the former Prime Minister or the Deputy President. The Summit which brought together MCAs from all the 47 Counties, as well as Senators and MPs, was expected to address amongst other issues the success of devolution and possible areas that required improvement. However, the meeting turned up to be an avenue for the MCAs to demand lavish lifestyle and could be the main reason why the President and his Deputy snubbed the forum. This is the 4th time the MCAs are meeting and in all the preceding summits they have been categorical in their demands for financial incentives that will take them closer to what the Members of Parliaments earn.
In 2014 the President while addressing the Summit in Mombasa, supported their request for a car grant rather than a car loan just like parliamentarians. “As the white man says, what is good for the gooses is good for the gander. If it’s a car loan, let it be a car loan for everybody. If it’s a grant, it must be a grant for everybody. Justice is justice,” remarked the President. His Deputy last year while addressing the Summit in Mombasa reiterated the Government’s commitments to ensuring the proposal by the MCAs is fulfilled once Parliament approves it. The promises were made and the MCAs wanted their fair share of the deal, however, the Government knew they are unable to fulfill it and therefore opted to hide.
The MCAs took a whole 3 days to make demands after demands and not even a single one of them took time to address the real issues that brought them together in Kisumu. The total number of MCAs is 1,450 elected and 774 nominated, each is demanding for a Ksh. 5 Million car grant. The President has since recently changed his tune as he seeks to leave a legacy and pundits belief could be the reason he skipped the summit. The Summit passed no resolution and as each invited speaker emphasized on their crucial role in protecting devolution, the MCAs were only focused on how fast parliament will give them car grants and the ward development fund.
What is at stake?
The Members of the County Assembly play a crucial role in protecting devolution and the constitution as well as the County Government Act has given them unwarranted powers but they rarely exercise it. The theme for the summit was, “Assessing the progress and addressing the gaps in policy and legislation” and as the days went by the MCAs openly avoided the discourses. The MCAs are pivotal, however, in many instances, they remain unaware of their role and that is evidenced by their frequent dining with the executive. The constitution clearly set them up as a watchdog for the Executive and they have the ability to force the County to perform and deliver but rarely do we see them standing up and demanding services to the grassroots. The MCAs have turned up to be a rubber stamp for the executive and they only become useful when the Governor wants them to approve deals and budget which has not met the threshold.
These folks forget who voted for them immediately they get elected and they run up and down begging for trips and allowances from the executive. In Kisumu, the MCAs turned up in large numbers on the first day and disappeared with only a small number attending the summit to the end. They appeared in Kisumu, pocketed their allowances and went back to their hideouts to eat away the public funds with nothing gained. Its high time electorates hold their MCAs accountable and demand them to put a closer look at the executive rather than join and feed with them. The County Government Act clearly forbids them from trading with the County a role that several MCAs have embraced in recent years. An EACC report released earlier last year revealed that most companies doing business with Counties are owned by the employees or their proxies.
where is the voter in all this?
As the MCAs demand to live lavishly, the voter is forgotten and no one is willing to take the necessary steps in ensuring development reaches them. The first stop for any voter is at the door of his/her MCA but the MCA has now changed tune and appears to only focus on mending their relationship with the executive to ensure they get a pie of the County cake. The person tasked with oversight is now at the high table and the voter has become useless until the next election. Instead of demanding for good roads, good hospitals, clean water, and better service delivery they want more cash and more cash. The reality is now dawning on us as the poor hustler that was voted for is now filthy rich, driving state of the art cars and living lavishly in mansions built by money siphoned from the public coffers. All this is happening while people are walking distances in search of water, the hospitals are lacking medicine and students are dropping out of school for lack of fees. As Patrice Lumumba once said, “If you want to get rich from ill-gotten wealth, join Kenyan politics.”