What you need to know:
- The national debt has increased exponentially due to infrastructural demands.
- Food and fuel prices have been increasing, with unemployment at an all-time high because of the effects of Covid on our economy.
After a long period of public debate, the people of Kenya decided that in their new constitution, they wanted a devolved government over a centralised one, that instead of looking to the national government for everything, there would be 47 separate jurisdictions covering the whole country, known as counties, and these would be responsible for smaller groups of people.
This delegation of power was intended to allow each person to be closer to the decisions that are made about their lives in the areas in which they live. Each county is made up of sub-counties, and Kenya has 290 sub-counties. The smallest unit of electoral representation in Kenya is the ward, and Kenya has 1,450 wards.
The Member of County Assembly (MCA) is the elected representative of each ward. There was much understandable debate about the increase in the nation’s recurrent expenditure occasioned by the creation of these smaller offices, many of which were seen to be inefficient by the public.
However, the office of the MCA as intended was to bring the benefits of democratic politics closer to the people. Public surveys have repeatedly found that Kenyans are more likely to interact directly with an MCA than they are with any other elected representative.
The MCA’s key function is to represent the people of their ward before the County Assembly, which makes important decisions on revenue spending and development strategy. It is also to remind and update the electorate that their issues are being listened to, as the government’s way of doing follow up.
The increased closeness of the office of the MCA to the people of their ward made a promise to the people of Kenya, that now, more than ever, there was a chance that the issues that affect them can be escalated for solving before they became a crisis.
It, therefore, stands to reason that Kenyans were profoundly dismayed by the MCAs’ decision to lobby for car grants when every cent of public money is sorely needed elsewhere. During a pandemic, health care workers, from doctors to nurses and hospital housekeeping, have been told there is no money to assure them of employment.
Food and fuel prices have been increasing, with unemployment at an all-time high because of the effects of Covid on our economy. The national debt has increased exponentially due to infrastructural demands. Kenyans are numb with shock at the corruption that has seen money inexplicably vanish from public coffers by the billions.
This is not to say that the MCA job is not challenging, or that it does not deserve perks. The issue here is the sole focus on those perks at the expense of everyone else’s welfare.
Funds were denied to essential services during a crisis and then given to a select few to buy cars, in a society where owning a car is a luxury few can afford. It, therefore, becomes difficult to imagine that the MCA can focus on public service delivery if when push came to shove, they moved themselves to be first in the line at the expense of the public.
The writer is a policy analyst. firstname.lastname@example.org