Deputy Governors want Senate to fast-track bill
Deputy Governors have asked the Senate to fast-track a crucial bill outlining the procedure for filling of a vacancy in the office of the Deputy Governor.
The County government [Amendment] bill, 2017 seeks to entrench into the law the legal mechanism for appointment of a deputy governor in case of a vacancy.
The Bill has already been published by Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and is awaiting maturity before being tabled in the House.
If approved, the Bill will give deputy Governors who assume office as governors an opportunity to appoint their deputies.
They would then present the names to the County Assemblies for approval, within 14 days after the office fell vacant.
“The enactment of the law should be expedited by the Senate, the bill is long overdue,” said Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi who is also the secretary to the Forum for Deputy Governors.
The Senate resumes seating in February after a long recess but could vote to reduce the maturity days for the bill and even exempt it from the usual legal procedures in a bid to fast-track it.
Yesterday Murkomen said the Senate was cognizant of the urgency in enacting the law.
“We expect to do our part in expediting the process once we resume from recess next month,” said the Elgeyo Marakwet senator.
The drafters of the constitution failed to provide for the scenario in which a vacancy arises in the office of the Deputy governor should be filled.
This means that should the deputy governor assume office as governor there is no legal framework that allows such a governor to pick a deputy.
Neither does the law provide for the procedure of appointing a deputy governor in case a vacancy arises as a result of death of the occupier of the office.
Maangi said as per the Constitution, the Senate must maintain the spirit and letter of the framers of the supreme law who envisaged a vacancy in the office of the governor and provided that the deputy governor should assume office.
“Just like in the President where the law says the Deputy President should assume office the same scenario must be maintained for the county governments as is in the law,” he said.
Following the death of Nyeri governor Wahome Gakuru a number of politicians from the region elicited debate as to whether then Deputy governor Mutahi Kagiha would assume office or a fresh election would ensure.
Vicious political wars erupted that opposed the swearing in Kahiga as the governor of Nyeri county with politicians claiming that there was need to amend the law to force a by-election in case a governor dies in office.
On Friday, Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe resigned from his office effective January 31, creating the same legal dilemma for Nairobi governor Mike Sonko.
Maangi said proponents of a by-election were mainly Senators and members of Parliament eyeing governors’ seats.
“The law provides for what needs to happen in the scenario of the death of a governor. However, what the Senate should fast-track is the bill providing for the procedure for the appointment of a deputy governor in case of a vacancy,” Maangi said.
He however, pointed out that such a lacuna exists in the constitution in case a deputy president assumes office of president.
“It is not clear how the deputy president who has assumed office as president would appoint a deputy president. This would have also applied for the case of county governments.