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Vacant deputy governor posts to be filled in 14 days

MPs pass law streamlining appointment of deputy county bosses in case of a vacancy.

In Summary

•There are no specific timelines within which governors must fill the posts. 

•New law also gives President 14 days to act on petition to dissolve county.

Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing. /FILE
AMBITIOUS GOVERNORS: Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliff Oparanya and other governors during a briefing. /FILE
Image: COURTESY

County bosses will now have to nominate a candidate for deputy governor within 14 days in case of a vacancy in the office.

This followed the National Assembly’s approval of the mediated versions of amendments to the County Governments Act, 2017.

The law drawn by the Senate is projected to end governors’ debacle in defining timelines for appointing their deputies.

 

MPs have also dealt with the debacle of governors or their deputies being unable to assume office – for whatever reason – after being declared winner.

“The county assembly shall consider a motion for approval for the appointment of the deputy governor, within 14 days, and resolve whether to approve the motion,” the law reads.

The county assembly will, however, be deemed to have approved the motion for the appointment of the deputy governor if they fail to make a resolution in 14 days.

“A motion for the approval of appointment of a deputy governor shall be supported by a majority of the members of a county assembly.”

MCAs will also have a say in the appointment and removal of the deputy governor should President Uhuru Kenyatta assent to the law as approved.

A crisis hit Nairobi after the court barred Governor Mike Sonko from accessing his office as the county had no deputy governor to take charge.

The events culminated in the transfer of key city county functions to the Nairobi Metropolitan Services under the national government.

 

According to the proposed law, a deputy governor-elect will be sworn in as acting governor in the event a governor-elect dies or is unable to assume office for whatever reason.

This will be for 60 days after which a fresh governor election shall be held in the affected county.

When a deputy governor-elect dies before assuming office, the office shall be declared vacant by the incoming governor.

When a governor’s office falls vacant, the deputy governor will within 14 days take over for the remainder of the term.

The office of deputy speaker is also slated to be a substantive post to be filled with the approval of MCAs.

The Senate and the National Assembly also agreed that governors need not to disclose reasons for dismissing a county executive committee member.

National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya said they removed the disclosure requirement since “CECs are political appointees.”

“They (governors) don’t give reasons why one is being appointed,” the Kipipiri MP said during the Tuesday debate.

MPs also approved the law guiding the suspension of a county government in the event of a petition to dissolve the devolved administrations.

President Kenyatta will now be required to communicate a decision on such a petition within 14 days of receiving a report of a commission handling the same.

The President will, therefore, submit to the Speaker of the Senate within the said period a memorandum stating his satisfaction or otherwise to dissolve a county.

“Upon authorisation by the Senate, the President shall suspend the county government for a period not exceeding 90 days, or until the suspension is terminated earlier by the Senate.”

The approved version also provides for qualifications of a person seeking to be appointed as a county secretary.

County secretaries will now have to hold a degree from a university recognised in Kenya and at least 10 years relevant professional experience.

Also required is five years experience in senior management at the public service or private sector organisation as well as comply with the Leadership and Integrity Act.

The law also strips governors the absolute power of picking county secretaries haphazardly, a task that will now be handled by a selection panel, chaired by a person who is not a public officer.

It shall have a representative of the private sector, the Law Society of Kenya, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya; and the workers union.

“The selection panel shall submit to the governor the names of two applicants who qualify for appointment as county secretary,” the proposed law states.

The governor shall submit the name of one applicant to the county assembly for approval for appointment as county secretary.

MPs have also set term limits for county secretaries to five years, renewable once.

Governors have also been stripped the absolute powers to appoint county public service board – to be done by a selection panel.

The team will be required to submit to the governor names of three qualified applicants for the position of chairperson, six for a member and two for secretary.

The governor, within seven days of receipt, will nominate one person and at least three – not more than five, as members.

Edited by EKibii