Leader hopes to better record in Meru County

Monday November 13 2017

MERU Speaker Joseph Kaberia

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi (left) and the region's Speaker Joseph Kaberia converse outside the chamber during its opening on September 28, 2017. Mr Kaberia said he aims at expanding the facilities to enhance legislation. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAVID MUCHUI
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Mr Joseph Kaberia, one of the few speakers who made it back for a second term, is now keen on enhancing public participation in the Meru County assembly.

In the first assembly, Mr Kaberia said he oversaw the passage of 37 bills, 421 motions and 17 petitions.

He was elected speaker after beating five other contestants, having garnered 56 votes in the second round of voting.

DEVELOPMENT

Mr Kaberia attributed his re-election to his performance in the first assembly besides being favoured by the need to have regional balance in the county’s leadership.

“I closely engaged all MCAs and won support across the political divide. My development and leadership record gave me the upper hand. I look forward to doing more in my second term,” he said.

The Speaker prided himself on overseeing the refurbishment of old offices and putting up a modern debate chamber in his first term.

He said he aims at expanding the facilities to enhance legislation.

“In our first term, we started on a clean slate with several teething problems.

"There were no structures or human resource capacity to run a county assembly. The first year involved learning and putting up the structures for proper legislature,” Mr Kaberia said.

LEGISLATION
He said MCAs lacked a proper debating chamber, offices and committee rooms to effectively perform their duties.

“The MCAs and staff were also taken through a lot of training to debate and make sound laws,” he said.

Having learnt the ropes of running a county assembly and recently adding to his management skills after graduating with a master’s degree in Strategic Management, Mr Kaberia hopes to improve oversight, ensure public participation and proper legislation.

Mr Kaberia said he realised that laws that touch on the residents attract public interest hence the need to interact more with the people.

CIVIC EDUCATION

In his first term, he learnt Kenyans have very high expectations of county governments.

“While empowering the MCAs to fulfil their mandate, we want to enlighten the public on how they can take part in legislation and policy making. This will include more publicity and civic education in the county,” he said.

The assembly will occasionally hold sittings in the sub-counties so as to reach more residents, he said.

“The standing orders allow us to hold sittings in the grassroots. Our plan is to hold sittings in at least three locations across the county and also invite locals for interactive sessions.

"We realised that there is a lot of interest in taxation and finance laws, and policies,” he said.

TARGET
The assembly also intends to fully implement the County Assembly Public Participation Act passed early this year.

Mr Kaberia said he looked forward to cooperation from the executive to facilitate oversight.

“We want to work closely with the executive through consultation while keeping a safe distance for oversight. We expect the county executive officers will respect the assembly and turn up when there are questions to answer,” the speaker said.

During the second assembly, he said they targeted up to 60 laws, passing 1,000 motions and handle more public petitions.