A Senate committee has backed a call to have nominated MCAs be residents or registered voters of respective counties they are nominated in.
The development follows a petition before the Senate by Mr Laban Omusundi calling for amendment of electoral laws to ensure all nominated MCAs are voters or residents of the respective counties.
The Senate Justice and Legal Affairs committee agreed with the petitioner, recommending that Section 34 of the Elections Act, 2011 be amended to provide that for one to be eligible for nomination to a county assembly, one would need to demonstrate that he or she is either a registered voter in any of the wards in that county, is a resident of that county, or has a demonstrated interest in the affairs of that county.
According to a report by the committee chaired by Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, there is a need to ensure that nominated MCAs have a demonstrable connection to the county in which they seek to be nominated as members.
“This may be achieved by providing several avenues through which one may qualify for nomination, including registration as a voter in the concerned county, residency within that county, or a demonstrable interest in the affairs of that county,” reads the report in part.
Mr Omusundi had noted that some nominated MCAs are serving in counties where they are not registered as voters and, therefore, are unaware of the challenges and needs in those devolved units.
This practice, he said, continues to deny the indigenous people opportunities to serve the people effectively. “An example is where a person who participated in politics in Kiambu is nominated in Turkana, Nairobi, Kericho, Nakuru, Kakamega, Murang'a or Kajiado county assemblies,” the petition reads.
The petitioner urged the Senate to intervene with a view to enacting a clause in electoral laws that will make sure that all nominated MCAs are registered voters and residents of their respective counties.
Although the committee observed that while it would not be appropriate to place requirements that would be deemed too restrictive and which would run counter to the principles in the Constitution and electoral laws, it said it was equally important that nominated MCAs have a level of connection with the concerned county to effectively participate in the work of the Assembly and in representation of the interests for which they have been so nominated.
Consequently, the Committee proposed the amendment of section 34 of the Elections Act, 2011 to introduce three-tier criteria that one must meet to be nominated to a county assembly: one must either be a registered voter in any of the wards in that county, a resident of that county, or have a demonstrated interest in the affairs of that county.
“The finer details of how the residency requirements and the interest in the affairs of the county are to be determined may be addressed subsequently through regulations,” the report notes.