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OPINION

MCAs: Merchants of devolved corruption

It would appear the MCAs are becoming a law unto themselves

In Summary

• They hold governors and executives at ransom by demanding undue favours

Corruption is dangerous
Corruption is dangerous
Image: FILE

This week, MCAs’ greed and lust for resources have yet again made another governor threaten to disband the county. If this happens, the disbandment of Taita Taveta county will require all elected officials to go back to the ballot to seek fresh mandate.

The MCAs wish to see more resources in the county budget allocated to them, including for their salaries and allowances. It is also reported that the MCAs want the resources set aside for their counties doubled from what Governor Granton Samboja is proposing.

In Mombasa, from what appears to be wanton misuse of county resources, MCAs are approving for themselves items that were not originally budgeted for and using millions to attend unnecessary foreign trips in different countries across the world. These trips are at the expense of wananchi, who are crying out for development and assistance to make a living.

 
 

Presently, social media is rife with pictures of Mombasa MCAs posing with belly dancers in Egypt. On following up, Haki Africa, Huria, Manyatta Youth and Pwani Social Justice Working Group were informed that this Egypt trip was fully paid for by taxpayers to allow the MCAs benchmark the Africa Cup of Nations. One wonders, why would county MCAs attend to benchmark an event that is countrywide? What lessons were they going to learn that would benefit the county? Despite many other sports priorities that Mombasa county has, was the trip a priority?

A few years ago in Makueni county, the county government and assembly was almost disbanded, following unreasonable demands of MCAs. Governor Kivutha Kibwana refused to yield to the selfish demands, and had it not been for the intervention of the Senate, the county would have gone for fresh elections of all its officials. Nevertheless, a few years later during the general elections, the governor was voted for overwhelmingly, while most of the MCAs lost their seats.

In almost every county in the country, many MCAs have turned to looting and robbing county resources. To begin with, they hold county officials, including governors and county executives, at ransom by demanding undue favours. The MCAs have been reported to demand kickbacks in order to approve budgets and support the work of the executive. When the executive refuses to abide by their demands, they threaten to pass votes of no confidence. In some cases, they have gone ahead to actually pass the no-confidence motions and bundled officials out of office.

In other counties, besides drawing allowances for non-existent expenses, MCAs are also inflating costs of other benefits. For example, MCAs are drawing huge sums of money as office rent, when in actual sense, some of them do not even have offices and/or pay minimal rent. In other cases, it is reported that the funds set aside for development projects in their wards are diverted to personal projects benefitting themselves, their families and their cronies. It would appear the MCAs are becoming a law unto themselves, transforming into merchants of devolving corruption from the national to county governments.

Article 201 (d) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that “public money shall be used in a prudent and responsible way.” What the MCAs are doing is to go against this constitutional requirement and instead engaging in maladministration. MCAs are elected to safeguard the interests and resources of the poor and marginalised, but many have now become conduits of abuse and mismanagement of resources. In many cases, they hide in numbers and collectively ambush the executive for personal gains. This is a stab in the back of Kenyans who voted for them.

Currently, there are 1,450 elected MCAs and 772 nominated MCAs. The amount of money already being spent on these MCAs, for salaries and allowances, equals to billions of shillings. Besides the huge costs incurred to sustain them, MCAs are making Kenyans suffer more by engaging in corruption en masse. Clearly, as a people, we must not allow this behaviour to persist. Kenyans should now be made aware of how the MCAs are fleecing and swindling county resources. It is time to shed light on the rogue MCAs.