MCAs have intensified their push for financial autonomy and better terms of service to include a pension scheme for those who complete two terms in service as is the case with Members of Parliament.
The MCAs also want car grants as opposed to the current system, where they are given car loans.
The MCAs received backing in their quest for financial autonomy with various key speakers at the Fourth Annual Legislative Summit saying it would ensure their independence and strengthen their oversight role in counties.
The ward reps said the change of their positions in the 2010 Constitution from councillors to MCAs had come with heavier responsibilities, including law making, representation and oversight and argued that it’s only fair that they were allowed to retire in honour with a good pension.
“We were councillors but today we are MCAs. MCAs are honourable members and the title Hon is very expensive and it should be guarded. Our wish is to have a car grant and not a car loan,” said Ms Florence Oile, a nominated MCA from Migori County, on the first day of the summit at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu County.
“We want to walk with the government on corruption but it should also give us what is rightfully ours. Let us live honourably, walk honourably, retire honourably and if possible die honourably,” she said.
The MCAs want Parliament to expedite the enactment of the County Governments Retirement Pension Bill and the Ward Equitable Development Bill, both are currently pending in the Senate. They are also pushing for the amendment of the Public Finance Management Act so that the 47 counties are granted financial and operational autonomy to execute their mandate without the interference of county executives.
Ms Rebah Wabwile, an MCA from Bungoma County, said Ward Reps had attended the summit in the hope that their clamour for car grants would be granted without further delay.
Mr Kipkurui Chepkwony, an MCA from Nandi County, said Parliament should pass bills that touch on county assemblies’ priority, particularly those that will empower and give more allocations. “The issue of pensions and enhancement of the ability of MCAs to oversight and legislate should be given priority,” he said.
Kisumu County Speaker Onyango Oloo told the forum that brings together Senators and MCAs from the 47 county assemblies, that poor working conditions in county assemblies was undermining the ability of ward reps to interrogate critical issues affecting executives and legislate on matters that can entrench devolution.
“The matter of pension must be dispensed with as soon as possible so that we have MCAs who are strong enough to execute their mandate,” he said.
The pension bill, which is at the second reading stage in the Senate, has split both the Council of Governors and MCAs.
While governors have rejected the bill arguing that it is unconstitutional, Ward Reps through their lobby group County Assemblies Forum (CAF) has supported the Bill saying that it is within the best practice of management.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae, who chairs the labour committee of the CoG, told the Senate Committee on Labour that the bill gives the national government the power to manage retirement benefits of county employee, which is against the Constitution.
He argued that the bill also goes against the Retirement Benefits Act (RBA) which dictates that benefit schemes should be set up by employers for their employees.
However, (CAF) differed with the governors saying that it was not the mandate of the CoG to determine the constitutionality of the bill.
“From the onset, it's important to state that unlike the CoG, we agree with the bill in its entirety. Its provisions are in line with best practices of public sector schemes …” said Mr Johnson Osoi, the CAF chairman.