The Star (Nairobi)

22 March 2014

Kenya: Uhuru Says MCAs Are Entitled to Car Grants

PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday excited MCAs by promising them a car grant but at the same time told them off over salary increase demands.

Uhuru assured MCAs that they are entitled to car grants, as opposed to loans, just like Mps and senators, a statement that sent wild cheers inside the hall since the MCAs had accused the government of double standards.

"The issue of whether it is car grants or loans should apply equally to all, justice is justice, and there is no big or small leader, we all have a mandate to serve. And I want to assure you that we shall see how to rectify the issue and any other legitimate one, but the ones which we cannot deal with, to state it openely," said Uhuru.

He added, "We must address each other as leaders, let us dialogue together. I am going to work and give my all, and I will dedicate my life to make sure I achieve what I can," he added.

Speaking in Mombasa during the official opening of the inaugural summit of the county assemblies forum at the Flamingo beach Resort in Mombasa, Uhuru said leaders should accept the reality that the revenue basket is stressed, and there will be a risk of both the national and county governments running bankrupt, if prioritization is not done.

Uhuru who said the call for having a 20 percent pay cut in order to cut the wage bill, was begun by him and he was set to ensure that it succeeds.

"It is good to tell each other the truth, and that is, the government is limited, one way to address the issue is to expand the economy and ensure we check on what is there, and how much can be utilized for various issues," he said.

During the summit where daggers seemed to have been drawn between the MCAs and the national assemblies members, over the bill to scrap nominated MCAs positions, they urged Uhuru not to pass it and vowed to challenge it in court, if it gets to the worst.

Uhuru on his part said seemed to agree with them on the issue saying that scrapping of women representatives posts would go against the spirit and letter of the constitution, and that as leaders, instead of fighting, both assemblies should find ways of having a common ground.

"Kenyans chose all the elected positions including mine, clearly knowing their roles and mandate, which of course does not include fighting, but for us to work in our specific areas," he said.

Uhuru said increasing taxes for the common mwananchi at this time was not an option as citizens were already burdened with enough, adding that the it was vital to look into priorities.

"Everyone wants a payrise, but we must show we deserve it since we do their (citizens) work. Leadership is all about sacrifice. We should lead by example and not concentrate on payrise issues, before we are able to meet the ultimate agenda of the country. We should not risk failing to sustain ourselves, we shouldnt fight over money but over delivery of services to the people" he said.

Uhuru urged all leaders to give constitution a chance, saying the constitution cant keep on changing everytime.

"It is not easy to implement the constitution. Let us work together and that means we cant say women leaders (representatives) should go home since we have that clause for women inclusion in the constitution in order for them to stand like their male counterparts," he said.

He said the constitution also recognises that 15 years is adequate to allow women to be able to grow in leadership and compete favourably with men before they can stand on their own.

In the meeting also attended by MCAs, Mps, Chief Justice, governor Hassan Joho, senator Hassan Omar Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, among other leaders, Kiprui Chepkon, an MCA from Nandi county said the leaders have agreed that the bill currently at parliament, is impractical and unconstitutional.

"If it finds its way to your office, please don't ascent to it. We are products of devolution and urge the Jubilee government to support this cause," he said.

He said there was no difference between the national and county government adding that the buck stops with the president.

Mombasa speaker Thaddeus Rajwai, said if it was about clearing the wage bill, then the national assembly should go home.

"We shall mobilize ourselves, we have the votes and the leadership at heart, and make sure we achieve what is right," he added.

Makueni speaker Stephen Ngelu said there should not be any discrimination between nominated and elected MCAs when it comes to issues under the Salaries and Renumeration Commission.

Governors chairman Isaac Ruto, termed it as a 'very bad joke' and insulting to the MCAs and constitution, if the bill is passed.

"Devolution has united us and we do not understand about parties, we understand only our problems," he said amid cheers.

Nuh Abdi, the chairman of the MCA forum, said they are ready to challenge the bill in court if passed.

"Its only that the president cannot throw the bill out of the window but he should just trash it," he said.

Cabinet Secretary in charge of devolution, Anne Waiguru, said the journey for women empowerment has been long and gruelling and calls to throw it back are unacceptable.

"There is policy formulation and legislation provision to ensure women stand on their won feet and freed from the york of independence," she said.

The leaders seemed to speak in one voice opposing the removal of women representatives saying they represent the minority, people living with disabilities, and youths.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar added that MCAs have the hardest task to implement the constitution, saying the issue should not be trivialised since gender is still under represented.

Joho on his part expressed the need to work together saying Mombasa is a good example of how his office and the MCAs cooperate.

Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba said if Uhuru happens to sign the bill into law, the best thing to do would be to dissolve the national and county assemblies and let the leaders seek fresh mandate from the people.

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