The Deputy Speaker’s position in Murang’a County Assembly has been declared null and void by the High Court.
The ruling will have major ramifications across the country.
It also gives impetus to the debate on whether Kenya is over-represented, coming in the wake of a bill by Uasin Gishu County Woman Rep Gladys Shollei seeking to scrap the same post she holds.
The Murang’a ruling is the second by a judge to rule that the post is unconstitutional. Earlier, Justice Francis Gikonyo had declared the position null and void in Meru.
Mr Gikonyo ruled that the Standing Orders of the Meru County Assembly, which created the position, contravene the Constitution and County Government Act, 2012.
And on Wednesday, High Court Judge Kanyi Kimondo ruled that the creation, establishment and maintenance of the office in Murang’a is not based on any law.
In the petition filed against Deputy Speaker Mwangi Kihurunjo, Speaker Leonard Nduati Kariuki and the Murang’a County Assembly, local resident Anthony Mwangi Maina urged the court to declare Mr Kihurunjo’s seat unconstitutional, and also prohibit him from acting on behalf of the Speaker.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Kimondo issued a permanent injunction restraining any person ”from acting or representing himself as, or purporting, to act in the position of the deputy speaker of the county Assembly.
The ruling is a major blow to Mr Kihurunjo, who has been at loggerheads with the Executive, led by Governor Mwangi wa Iria. He is one of the rebel MCAs who oppose the Executive’s agendas in the Assembly.
Last week, 10 MCAs who opposed the budget proposals were removed from the committees they were heading in a disciplinary move.
The 10 include Mr Kiiru Mbembe, who headed the Finance Committee, who is to be replaced by James Kairu; Water Energy and Forestry Chairperson Sammy Mwangi, who was replaced by Jane Muigai; and Roads and Public Works Chair Peter Muthoni, who is to be replaced by Mr David Irungu.
Similarly, a Nyeri resident has moved to court seeking to have the deputy speaker’s post, held by Samuel Kariuki, declared unconstitutional. Mr Amos Muchiri says that the election and subsequent appointment of the deputy speaker is unknown in law and should, therefore, be scrapped.
He argues that the Constitution provides only for the election of the Speaker. The case will be heard on October 22.
In 2016, Jubilee Party MPs, led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, launched the “Boresha Katiba Punda Amechoka, Punguza Mzigo” initiative, which sought to reduce the number of counties from 47 to 18, and also scrap the Senate. It also sought to reduce the number of MPs from 345 to 200.
Mr Kuria said that would reduce the taxpayers’ burden of paying elected leaders hefty salaries and allowances.