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13,000 illegally hired assistants by MCAs’ costing Kenya taxpayer Sh875 million a month, says transition team

Nandi County assembly in session

County assembly in session

Members of County Assemblies stand to lose the 13,000 assistants they have illegally hired, according to the Transition Authority.

MCAs in the 47 counties had gone into a frenzy of hiring, retaining assistants at a cost of Sh875 million a month, or Sh10.5 billion a year, at the expense of taxpayers.

Each MCA has six assistants, according to the TA. They were hired through the County Assembly Service Board which the authority has described as an illegal outfit.

Each MCA has a ward manager, personal assistant, personal secretary, driver, guard and messenger, all of who TA says were hired irregularly. And Sunday, the chairman of the Transition Authority, Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi, said he will recommend that MCAs and County Assembly chiefs who authorised the hirings be surcharged for the money spent to pay salaries for the assistants. Those with assistants should also be surcharged.

“MCAs should not have ward offices. Therefore, the recruitment of staff is unnecessary and illegal and must be terminated,” he told the Daily Nation in a telephone interview.

In a circular to the county assemblies, Mr Wamwangi said that the salaries paid to the assistants were not sustainable and must be stopped.

“We are shocked that most MCAs are now concentrating on accumulation of power at the expense of service provision,” the circular said. “They are also usurping powers constitutionally reserved for the Executive by attempting to implement development projects on their own. What we are asking is, who will do oversight?”

The MCAs have also rented offices in trading centres close to their wards from where the staff operate.

Several County Executives Committee members who spoke to the Daily Nation said that despite the warning by the Transition Authority, they were being forced to bow to the pressure exerted by MCAs due to impeachment threats.

“Yes we have seen the circular but it is difficult to implement it because these people (MCAs) are too powerful. You can’t dare them. Even governors fear them,” said one county government minister.

In Kirinyaga, differences over the matter led to an impeachment motion against the county minister for finance, Mr Murimi Murage.

LEGAL FOUNDATION

However the motion by the county’s deputy speaker James Mutugi flopped due to a fault discovered by the ad hoc committee formed to investigate Mr Murage.

“The motion as moved was weak with poor legal foundation to fully address the intended purposes and could not therefore sustain strong case against the CEC concerned,” said a report seen by the Daily Nation. Some MCAs want the Speaker, Ms Agnes Githinji, reprimanded for approving the proceedings against the minister.

MCAs have also been put on the spot for creating the multi-billion shillings Ward Development Fund which they control in the same way MPs control CDF.

Sunday, the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, Mr Charles Nyachae, said he had issued an advisory against the creation of the fund.

Nairobi was the first county to enact the law which allows MCAs to spend Sh16.5 million each.

Governor Evans Kidero approved the CWD Fund Bill 2013, allowing the allocation of money for the development of the 85 wards in the city. Out of this, 85 per cent of the money will be shared equally among the wards, while 15 per cent will be shared according to population size and the poverty index. But the move was vigorously opposed by various government authorities on the grounds that it gives executive functions to the legislature. However, some counties are reportedly working on similar proposals.

Sunday, Mr Nyachae said: “We have stated our position on this matter that this should not happen and moved on to do an advisory.”

Mr Wamwangi also said the fund was illegal and described it as a scheme to mismanage public funds. He warned that those who draw money for such a fund would be taken to court on grounds of  misusing public offices.

MORE INFORMATION

Some perks MCAs enjoy

  • They control the multi-million shilling Ward Development Fund.
  • They have the powers to impeach govenors and top public servants in counties.
  • They claim over Sh208,000 per month if they chair assembly committees or upto Sh166,400 if they are members of those committees.
  • The are paid Sh123,750 as salary and get Sh5,000 for airtime each month.
  • Each can get car loan of Sh 2 million and pay at 3 per cent interest.

-Nation

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