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The Functions and Role of the County Assembly in Kenya

| Updated On: Aug 2, 2019 | County

The role of the County Assembly in Kenya is largely concerned with legislation. The county assembly in Kenya is the law-making organ of the county government. It is one of the state organs that the Constitution delegates power. 47 county assemblies in Kenya are unique to each of the 47 counties.

People elect the Ward Representatives to represent them in the assemblies. You can also refer to your Ward Representative as a Member of the County Assembly (MCA). In plural, it is Members of the County Assembly or Assemblies (MCAs). See this detailed article on the role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) in Kenya.

composition of county assembly in Kenya

The membership of the County Assembly in Kenya is important to run the Assembly affairs. The composition of the County Assembly in Kenya constitutes the following:

  • members elected by the registered voters of the wards (Ward Representatives).
  • nominated members based on the number of seats a political party or coalition has in the Assembly.
  • a speaker elected by the county assembly from among persons who are not members of the assembly.

The Speaker of the County Assembly is an ex officio member.

Registered voters vote for each MCA in their respective wards. The nominated MCAs ensure that no more than two-thirds of the county assembly members are of one gender.

There are also nominated MCAs, male and female, who represent special interest groups such as women, the youth, and persons living with disability.

The majority party (the party with the largest number of elected MCAs in the assembly) gets to nominate the highest number of nominated MCAs followed by the minority party.

The Role of the County Assembly in Kenya

to vet and approve nominees for appointment to county public offices

The county assembly in Kenya vets and approves nominees to hold county public offices. These nominees include the county executive committee members (or county ministers). Others are members of the county public service board (CPSB).

The county assembly also vets and approves chief officers in the counties. The chief officers are the persons who head the county government departments. In addition, the county assembly approves the appointment of the county assembly clerk.

While vetting these nominees, the county assembly should consider gender equality. It should also consider the interests of the special interest groups. Another factor to consider is the community and cultural diversity within the county.

Role of the County Assembly in Kenya as a legislative authority

The Constitution vests the legislative authority of the county on the county assembly. It also empowers the county assembly to exercise this authority.  The county assembly can make any laws that enable the county governments to perform effectively. The performance involves the functions and exercise of the powers of the county government under the Fourth Schedule.

The county assembly in Kenya exercises oversight over the county executive committee. It also exercises oversight over any other county executive organs. It should play this role while respecting the principle of separation of powers. That is, without directly interfering in the functions of the county executive.

The county assembly can also receive and approve plans and policies for the:

  • management and exploitation of the county’s resources; and
  • development and management of its infrastructure and institutions.

To approve the budget and expenditure of the county government

The County Assembly approves the budget and expenditure of the county government. It should authorize any allocation and expenditure of the county government.

The county assembly authorizes the county executive to withdraw funds from the County Revenue Fund (Article 207). To do this, the county assembly should pass a law to authorize the withdrawal (Appropriations Act).

The county assembly should also consider legislation before approving the county budget and expenditure. It should ensure the county government budget contains—

  • estimates of revenue and expenditure, differentiating between recurrent and development expenditure;
  • proposals for financing any anticipated deficit for the period to which they apply; and
  • proposals regarding borrowing and other forms of public liability that will increase public debt during the following year.

To facilitate this, the Public Finance Management Act (national legislation) prescribes—

  • the structure of the development plans and budgets of counties;
  • when the plans and budgets of the counties shall be tabled in the county assemblies; and
  • the form and manner of consultation between the national government and county governments in the process of preparing plans and budgets.

In performing this role, Articles 201 and 203 of the Constitution should guide the county assembly. They relate to principles of public finance, and equitable share and other financial laws respectively.

Role of the County Assembly to approve the borrowing by the county government

A county government should only borrow funds with the county assembly approval. These loans include those borrowed from financial institutions like commercial banks. The county government can only borrow if the national government guarantees the loan.

to approve county development planning

Every county government should plan for the county. The county government should not allocate or spend any funds outside a planning framework. The county executive committee should develop the framework with the county assembly approval.

The planning framework should integrate economic, physical, social, environmental, and spatial planning. The county plans should form the basis for all budgeting and spending in a county.

There are four types of county development plans in the County Governments Act:

  • County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), a five-year plan;
  • the County Sectoral plan, a ten-year plan;
  • County Spatial Plan, a ten-year plan; and
  • Cities and Urban Areas Plans (City or Municipal Plans) under the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

To Perform any other role as may be set out in the Constitution or legislation

The county assembly in Kenya can play any other role as may be set out in the Constitution or any other law.

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George Githinji
About George Githinji

I love writing content that is insightful and informative. The articles I write have a common #1 goal: Keeping it as simple as possible for users to understand the content.

3 thoughts on “The Functions and Role of the County Assembly in Kenya”

  1. Most Kenyans up to now have not known the roles of their MCA. That’s why most of us keep saying that they don’t get help. Lack of understanding.

  2. Such nice piece indeed, continue empowering us with the Kenya politics. Indeed we are always getting informed each time we read the article.

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