The role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) or Ward Representatives in Kenya is diverse. Yet, a large group of people does not know the role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs). People associate the MCAs with greed and opportunistic behaviour because of how the media posts sensational tales about them. The MCAs are always in the news, mostly for the wrong reasons such as misuse of county funds.
Due to these sensational tales and behaviour of MCAs, some people want a referendum to scrap those positions. Nevertheless, the role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) in Kenya is indispensable. They are a key component of the county governments and sustain the counties’ existence.
Yours truly already addressed the role of the county assembly in Kenya. The article looks in-depth into the major role of the Members of the County Assembly.
Role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs)
The major role of the Members of the County Assembly is legislation, representation, and oversight. In addition, the County Governments Act stipulates the role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) under Section 9.
Maintaining close contact with the electorate
The MCA should maintain close contact with the electorate. He or she should consult them on issues before or under discussion in the county assembly.
This means that the MCAs should not ‘disappear’ once elected only to reappear five years later seeking for re-election. The MCAs should strive to be in close contact with those who elected them. They should be available when the people need them and they should be approachable.
Several public surveys usually indicate that Kenyans interact with their MCAs the most compared to other elected representatives. This means that the public trust and confidence in MCAs is high.
The MCAs should strive to inform their electorate on issues before the Assembly. They should then consult their electorate and vote on these issues according to the people’s wishes.
Present views, opinions, and proposals of the electorate to the county assembly
Another role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) is to represent the people. By doing so, they should present people’s views, opinions, and proposals before the county assembly. We are an indirect democracy where people elect a few individuals to speak for the larger group.
After consultation, the MCAs should present the wishes of the people before the Assembly. These wishes differ across the Wards and each MCA should prioritize the needs of their Wards. The proposals can be in form of priority projects like those under the Ward Development Fund.
The Budget process under the new Constitution in Kenya is also an avenue for MCAs to present people’s wishes before the Assembly. The process gives them an opportunity to share resources among the Wards by determining who gets what. Other ways where the MCAs can present people’s wishes is through legislation and Assembly, motions, debates, and resolutions.
Attend sessions of the county assembly and its committees
This role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) is very crucial. The MCAs cannot present people’s views, opinions, and proposals if they do not attend county assembly sessions. The most important business of the Assembly takes place in the committees where the MCAs make most of the deliberations.
Both plenary and committee sessions are the avenues where the MCAs can project their voice. They can give their views on issues that affect their electorate through plenary sessions and vote on the issues. In the committee sessions, they have a direct role in making recommendations on these issues and considering amendments where possible.
If any MCA fails to attend eight consecutive sittings of the county assembly, they risk losing their seat. Others only attend committee meetings to secure the lucrative seating allowances but not to represent the people. Attending the sessions should not be a routine but the MCAs should do it to serve the people.
Provide a linkage between the county assembly and the electorate on public service delivery
This role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) ties strongly to oversight. The people put their trust in the MCAs to ensure that the county executive implements county projects. The MCAs have a crucial role to ensure that the county government delivers services directly and ensuring there are enough funds for the provision of services.
The MCAs also provide the linkage through consultation with their electorate. The Assembly organizes public forums to seek public views on county government plans. In addition, by presenting the public views before the assembly, they facilitate this linkage. The MCAs also mobilize residents to identify priority projects for the county government to implement, thereby facilitating public service delivery.
Extend professional knowledge, experience or specialized knowledge to any issue for discussion in the county assembly
The role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) has been under scrutiny since the 2013 general elections. They face constant criticism for lacking professional knowledge, experience and specialized knowledge to run county assembly affairs.
At the beginning, many of them were unable to participate in assembly debates or make laws that were above scrutiny. There are a good number of them whose level of education is only a primary or a secondary certificate. Several others are school dropouts.
Despite that, the MCAs should utilize their professional qualifications and specialized knowledge to run the county Assembly business. This knowledge is essential especially in the committees.
There are proposals by IEBC to ensure the MCAs have college diplomas by 2017 and university degrees by 2022 general elections. The proposals are in the Election Laws (Amendment) number 3, Bill of 2015. The National Assembly has already passed the bill and will forward it to the Senate for consideration.
What the MCAs should not do
The role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) restricts itself to the authority granted by the law. A member of the county assembly should not be directly or indirectly involved in the following.
Executive functions of the county government and its administration
The MCAs should not perform executive functions. These functions include management and implementation of funds and implementation of projects. The MCAs should not manage the Ward Development Fund , which they have been fighting the county executive viciously to manage and implement.
Delivery of services as if the member were an officer or employee of the county government
The MCAs should not perform any functions as if they are county employees. This applies for both the County Public Service Board (CPSB) and the County Assembly Service Board (CASB). The CPSP is in charge of recruiting, hiring, and managing county staff while the CPSB does the same for the county assembly.
In short, the role of the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) does not involve public service delivery. They only provide a linkage in service delivery between the public and the county government.