Each of the 2,450 members of county assemblies around the country will pocket Sh1.7 million for no work done, and with the court’s protection.
Thursday, the High Court ruled that taxpayers will pay MCAs for the seven months they will not be in office after this year’s elections, which works out to Sh4.2 billion.
High Court judge Edward Muriithi yesterday ruled that the county lawmakers are entitled to get their full-five years’ salary up to March next year although the elections will held in August 8 this year.
The monthly pay for an MCA is Sh280,000 – excluding allowances – and there are 1,450 elected MCAs and 1,000 others who are nominated.
Justice Muriithi noted that the law had discriminated against the MCAs since they were the only crop of elected leaders who would have left office, after August 8, without the contested seven months’ pay.
“The duty to pay for the loss of income suffered by the MCAs must be borne by the taxpayer. MCAs suffer a reduced opportunity to remain in office for the full term of their constitutional tenure consistently with their right to hold office, and for that reason they are entitled to compensation for the income during this period,” said Justice Muriithi.
The judgment was read by Justice Chacha Mwita.
According to Justice Muriithi, MCAs ought to have left office on March 5, 2018, if they were allowed to serve their full term.
He said the 1,450 elected MCAs will have an unexpired term if they exit on August 8, and the only way to resolve the issue is by paying them and not pushing the election date.
“How do we remedy the loss suffered by the MCAs? It must be by payment of money for holding the General Election in accordance with the Constitution before expiry of the constitutional term of office,” the judge said.
He continued: “The public may understandably feel aggrieved that it is required to meet salaries and emoluments for MCAs for the period for which they did not provide service as office holders.”
He, however, ruled that they should not receive the money in lump sum – it will be paid out on a monthly basis.
“To reduce the taxpayers burden and in the public interest, as is the case where payments may not have been budgeted for in advance, the court must direct that the damages for the remaining period be paid not as a lump sum but as monthly dues in arrears, in the same manner it would have been paid had it been a salary,” the judge ruled.
The County Assembly Forum, through their lawyers Walter Amoko, John Mbaluto, and Charles Njenga, claimed that by holding the August 8 elections its members’ term in office had been illegally reduced.
The MCAs claimed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had no mandate to cut short their term in office.
The IEBC told the court that it had no role in paying and determining salaries for public officers.
Attorney General Githu Muigai, on the other hand, argued that the court could not change the election date as it was set by the Constitution.