Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Civic leaders will not take new oath, after all

By Peter Opiyo

Councillors are not required to take new oaths of affirmation of office, Minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi has clarified.

Mr Mudavadi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said his office raised the matter with the Attorney General owing to concerns raised by the councillors.

He said the AG’s office stated that under the new Constitution, they are not classified as State officials and therefore they are not required to take the oaths.

"Mayors, council chairpersons and clerks are not members of the County Assemblies. They are not therefore State officers in the new Constitution," said Mudavadi.

He was addressing councillors from the 175 local authorities, during the signing of their performance contracts in Nairobi yesterday.

Mudavadi told them the AG referred to sections 74 and 260 of the new laws in making the clarification.

The minister also said his ministry was working hard to ensure that consequential legislations that seek to classify cities and towns are ready in a year, while that on the structure of the counties to be available in 18 months.

Mudavadi, his Assistant Minister Lewis Nguyai and Local Government PS Karega Mutahi, urged the councillors to change their attitude as the new Constitution requires them to be responsive to the needs of the people.

Citizen arrests

"You will feel the pressure from citizens on demands that you must be accountable. It is possible for citizens to arrest you if you are corrupt," said Mr Nguyai.

On the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF), Mudavadi said the ministry has been facing challenges on explaining the use of the fund to Parliament and Controller and Auditor General, given most local authorities have not effectively used the funds.

He asked them to ensure the Sh12.3 billion disbursed this year was properly used, or risk the fund being scrapped altogether.

"There have been excellent usage of LATF in some local authorities, but a larger number are not using the fund properly, thus giving us problems with Parliament and the Auditor General," said Mudavadi.

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