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Taxpayers to pay two sets of MCAs from August

Ward representatives will continue receiving salaries eight months after the August 8 General Election, even if they lose their seats.

The High Court ruled on Thursday that the members of the county assembly be paid for their full five-year tenure.

Justice Edward Muriithi, however, said the reps will be paid monthly and not as a lumpsum to ease the burden on taxpayers.

LEGAL BACKING
The judge ruled that the five-year tenure for ward reps ends on March 2018 because the Constitution provides that they should serve for five years.

He however said the exact amount of compensation still needs to be determined since there are emoluments that will not remain payable since they will not be actively working.

“The county assembly members suffer a reduced opportunity to remain in office for the full term of their constitutional tenure consistent with their right to hold office and, for that reason, they are entitled to compensation for the lost income for that period,” Justice Muriithi ruled.

REVISE CONSTITUTION

However, the judge pointed out that the Constitution needs to be amended to align the tenure of ward reps with that of members of Parliament and other elective state officers of the national and county governments.

But the judge categorically stated that he had not been asked to determine the issue of amendment of the date of the General Election, and so he had not.

“For avoidance of doubt, this judgment does not affect the holding of the General Election scheduled for August 8 and the payment of salary as well as other applicable emoluments shall be per month in arrears at the end of every month for the period,” he said.

COMPENSATION ISSUE
Since the verdict has a direct effect on all MCAs, the judge further said that parties in the case are now at liberty to move back to court to have a decree as to the payable emoluments, consistent with circumstances of when the reps are not working.

Two voters, Mr Andrew Kiplimo Sang and Mr Richard Ouma, and the County Assemblies Forum sued the electoral commission and the attorney-general.

They challenged the setting of the date of the General Election and sought an interpretation of the law on when the term of county assembly members end, as well as whether they are entitled to compensation for the reduced period.

There are 2,526 county assembly members earning a basic monthly salary of Sh165,000 each, which amounts to Sh416 million.

TENURE OF OFFICE

They were elected in the March 2013 General Election.

The bone of contention that saw the matter land in court is the fact that the terms of the President and county governors come to an end when a new one is sworn in, as per the Constitution.

The law also states clearly that the term of MPs ends on the date of elections.

However, the Constitution only indicates that county assembly members have a fixed five-year term in office.