MPs pass Bill barring nomination of 'outsider' MCAs

A sitting of the National Assembly.

A sitting of the National Assembly. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A Bill requiring that nominees for special seats in county assemblies be registered voters in the respective devolved regions inched closer to reality after the National Assembly approved it.

The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2021, sponsored by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, seeks to amend Section 34 (8) of the Elections Act to promote “local solutions to local issues” in counties.

This means, for instance, that if someone is a registered voter in Nairobi, they cannot be nominated as MCA in their home county as the Bill deems them outsiders.

The Bill is now before the Senate, as required by the Constitution because it affects counties. If it passes there in its current form, it will go to the President.

“A person shall not be nominated by a political party unless the person is, on the date of submission of the party list by the political party, a registered voter in any of the wards in the county in which the person is to be nominated,” the Bill reads.

A total of 770 positions are reserved as special seats in county assemblies.

The nominees add to the 1,450 MCAs elected directly in wards.

Under current nomination laws for MCAs, anyone can be nominated to any of the 47 county assemblies provided that the sponsoring political party indicates so on the list submitted to the electoral commission.

Article 177 (1) (b) of the Constitution provides that a county assembly consists of the number of special-seat members necessary to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership are of the same gender.

On Wednesday, Mr Kioni was categorical that a person who is not a registered voter in a county has no business serving in its county assembly.

“What we do not want to encourage is this behaviour of political freelancing and tourism in county assemblies that has been with us for close to 10 years but with little or no returns at all,” said Mr Kioni, who chairs the National Assembly’s Energy Committee.

Mr Kioni noted that each county has unique issues affecting it and nominations to county assemblies should not copy-paste what the National Assembly and the Senate do.

“Nominating individuals other than the party’s registered members in a county demotivates the bona fide members in the county. It does not give them the energy to popularise the political party they belong to, well aware that outsiders will be favoured,” the Ndaragwa MP added.

Currently, the Elections Act provides that a person qualifies for nomination to a county assembly if they are a member of a political party on the date the party list is submitted.

Section 35 of the Act requires a political party to submit its party list to the IEBC at least 45 days before the date of the General Election.

With the elections set for August 9, registered political parties have until June 25 to submit their lists.

But under the law, the party list must not contain the names of candidates nominated for election as President, governor, senator, MP, woman representative or MCA.

A party list will also not be open to amendment during the term of Parliament or the county assembly.

The law also requires that the list prioritise a person with a disability, the youth and any other candidate representing a marginalised group.

Nominations are based on the number of elected members a political party has in the Senate, the National Assembly or county assemblies.

Within 30 days after the General Election results are declared, the IEBC is required to designate, from each qualifying list, the party representatives on the basis of proportional representation.