Counties have been spending millions of shillings annually to finance employees and Members of the County Assemblies (MCAs) to participate in sports activities that are ordinarily supposed to be a private affair.
Each participating county spends approximately Sh 20 milliom annually to finance the games for both MCAs and executives. This will translate to Sh 940 million if all the counties were to participate.
The matter is good for a follow-up of local media: How is this handled in your county?
Three Quarters of County Assemblies and Executives went to Games
A total of 32 County Assemblies and 34 County Executives participated in the games that were held in Nairobi and Kisii counties in 2018.
Most of these expenses have been approved by the Controller of Budget without asking any questions yet we find no law that authorizes the expenditure.
County executives take part in what they call the “Kenya Inter-County Sports and Cultural Association” (KICOSCA) while MCAs take part in games organized by the “County Assemblies Sports Association” (CASA).
Hidden budgeting in Bungoma County
Take Bungoma County, for example. During the financial year 2017/2018, Bungoma County Assembly spent Sh. 18, 101,200 on Inter-County Assembly games that were held in Machakos. In 2018/2019, the county assembly has spent Sh. 20,000,000 on the games that were held at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi.
The county executive of Bungoma in the FY 2017/2018 spent Sh 12,500,000 for the games which were held in Kisii County while Sh 16,500,000 were spent in the 2018/2019 budget.
The money for the county ssembly was budgeted as field training allowance (KICOSCA) while a similar budget item appeared under the Department of Gender for the County Executive.
The funds are majorly spent on purchase of games items, registration for the disciples to participate in, payment of training allowances, and payment of perdiem to the participants who are mainly staff and MCAs.
The big question here is: Are County Assembly Members supposed to foot this expenditure as a private expense or is it supposed to be funded by the state using public coffers?
Constitutional lawyer Steve Ogolla confirms: “There is no reason in law.”
Efforts by the writer of this article to get budgets from other counties were futile. Many County websites did not have the budgets uploaded which is an illegality. The law requires that County budgets be easily accessed by citizens.
No Mandate for Gaming
The games are not one of the functions that MCAs are elected to undertake. The major roles of the MCAs as outlined in the County Governments Act are oversight, representation, legislation, approval of county budgets and plans and approval of borrowing among others. There is no express provision in the laws on their participation in games and sports which are supposed to be private affairs.
The county executive on the other hand is mandated by law to carry out implementation of programmes and formulate budgets and development plans.
The major games that county assemblies participate in include: football, netball, volleyball, tug of war, athletics, badminton, table tennis, scrabble, cultural dance, and choir.
Each county assembly pays Sh 2.7 million annually as subscription to County Assemblies Forum – an association that brings together all county assemblies in Kenya.
Each county assembly pays Sh 1, 000 for registration for every event they participate in. If a county assembly registers in 15 disciplines, it pays Sh 15, 000 in addition to the annual subscription of Sh 300, 000.
for reporters on the ground in the counties:
- Has your county assembly participated in the games?
- Has your county executive participated?
- What do they say about the costs?
- Was it budgeted and where?
- How, if at all, can the costs for the sports activities be justified?
Question to the Auditor General and the local office of the Controller of Budget:
- Was this ever an issue in their reports?
- Should it be one?
A hint for the research:
If you do not find evidence on official pages in the web, take a look at the photos and reports of your county assembly members and executives in social media.
For this, log into facebook and type into the facebook search window on the page itself. A search with the words “machakos county assembly sports” (just an example) will unearth the following, for example: