Each of us belongs to a county and much more a ward where the public services to be provided by both the national and county governments affect our everyday life. This is regardless of whether we participate in the governance or not. No one is to be excluded but there is all the more benefit to participate while seeking to ensure that services are economical, efficient and effectively provided to all without fear or favour.
The County Assembly Member (CAM) who will be the most local representative of the people will play an immense role in ensuring that county governments are kept accountable and supported. Each of the 47 Counties will have a parliament, referred to as County Assembly (CA) responsible for making laws, approving budgets and plans of the county, and providing oversight in the running of the county governments. The CA shall be chaired by the speaker and shall be elected for a five year term.
So who constitutes a CAM? Article 177 of the Constitution provides for four categories:
(i) a person elected in each ward by the majority of the registered voters (this can be an independent candidate or a member of a political party)
(ii) a person nominated through a political party to ensure that the composition of the CA is such that no one gender is more than 2/3rds of the members
(iii) a person nominated through a political party to represent marginalized groups, persons with disability and the youth. The County Government Bill 2012 sets the total number of this nominations at 6 persons.
(iv) The speaker, who shall be an ex-officio member elected by the CAMs from among persons who are not CAMs
The responsibility placed on the CAMs is to, (a) maintain close contact with the electorate and consult them on issues before or under discussion in the county assembly; (b) present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the county assembly; (c) attend sessions of the county assembly and its committees; (d) provide a linkage between the county assembly and the electorate on public service delivery; and e) extend professional knowledge, experience or specialised knowledge to any issue for discussion in the county assembly. A member of the county assembly shall not be directly or indirectly involved in the, (a) executive functions of the county government and its administration; or (b) delivery of services as if the member were an officer or employee of the county government. (See County Government Bill 2012)
Our Rights, Our Responsibilities
In this regard we all have rights and responsibilities, :-
(a) A right to seek the position of a CAM through any of the four ways and a responsibility to execute the duties given with a sense of devotion, justice and integrity.
(b) A right to support candidates seeking the position of CAMs whose principles, policies and values we agree with, and a responsibility to do so while shunning divisive, exclusionist, and bad blood politics;
(c) A right to be heard when giving our opinions to our respective CAM and a responsibility to ensure that such proposals seek to advance the common good of all persons in our ward;
(d) A right to demand for efficient services and a responsibility to honour our end through respecting the rule of law;
(e) A right to hold our CAM accountable of their actions in serving us and a responsibility to model the very actions we demand of others.
If the CA is to do its proper work properly, then both the CAM and the citizens they represent need to play their respective roles. Let those who can lead present themselves, let us weigh their offers and support them based on what they are willing to do and what we are willing to live with. Let us take the responsibility to build our nation seriously. Only we can build our country and since no house is built from the roof let us start with our wards.
In the next post we look at the Governor.
In Service to God and My Country
Source: The Constitution of Kenya 2010 and County Government Bill 2012 (This is in parliament and thus some things may change)