Politics

MCAs push for Sh8bn payout at Supreme Court

MCAs push for Sh8bn payout at Supreme Court

Members of County Assembly (MCAs) are pressing on with a push to be paid about Sh8 billion, which they claim was as a result of reduction of their terms ahead of the 2017 General Election.

Appearing before the Supreme Court, the MCAs, through the County Assemblies Forum, argued that it was wrong for the Court of Appeal to overturn their compensation, yet their term was reduced by eight months.

According to the MCAs, their five-year term should have expired on March 3, 2018 but the election date was set for August 8, 2017.

Through lawyer Charles Njenga, the MCAs argued before a bench presided by Chief Justice Martha Koome that if former members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) were compensated for loss of term, then the same should apply for them.

“This court should take judicial notice of the fact that when the chairman and commissioners of the IEBC, were in September 2016, forced to resign en masse to pave way for the current leadership, they were all paid compensation commensurate to the period of the remainder of their terms under the Constitution,” Mr Njenga submitted.

Quashed on appeal

The MCAs had been awarded the amount by High Court Judge Edward Mureithi, but a bench of three judges of the Court of Appeal quashed the decision. The appellate judges said the MCAs would have been entitled to a salary and related emoluments had they rendered service to the public.

Mr Njenga argued that when it quashed the judgment, the Court of Appeal basically declared Article 177(4) redundant and inapplicable.

“This court as the custodian of the Constitution must reject such abuse of its processes and give full effect to all the provisions of the Constitution. Judicial ingenuity howsoever novel and creative cannot be used to oust an express, unequivocal and unambiguous provision of the Constitution,” he said.

He said the MCAs were entitled to payment of their salaries and other benefits for the eight months that were prematurely reduced.

Public interest

The IEBC and Attorney General urged the court to be guided by public interest considerations when arriving at decisions that have grave ramifications on the budgetary process and appropriation of public funds.

Mr Thande Kuria for the AG said if the decision was not overturned, the payment to the MCAs would cost the taxpayer about Sh8 billion, a sum that has not been budgeted for by Parliament.

“This will create a macro-economic imbalance, in addition to ballooning the wage bill and causing unnecessary burden on the taxpayer,” he said.

The court will deliver judgment on notice.