The County Assemblies Forum (CAF) is the coordinating body of the 47 County Assemblies in Kenya. The primary mandate of CAF is to promote networking and synergy among the 47 County Assemblies, coordinate intergovernmental relations and enhance good practice in legislative development.
County Assemblies that are responsive to public participation and support effective service delivery by County Governments.
To provide effective leadership and coordination of the 47 County Assemblies and through policy and legislative action, promote a conducive working environment for all its members, and in that way deliver quality services to the people.
- Integrity: We are open, honest, fair, and accountable in all our undertakings.
- Responsiveness: We are proactive, swift and effective in serving the needs of our members.
- Inclusivity: We provide services and create opportunities for all people equitably without any form of discrimination.
- Empowerment: We believe in strengthening the capacities of people to identify and create solutions for the problems they face.
- Excellence: We strive to attain and maintain the highest quality standards in our operations and services.
- Teamwork: We believe we will achieve more by harnessing our collective strength internally and developing mutually beneficial partnerships with other stakeholders.
- County Assemblies: Members of County Assemblies, County Assembly Speakers.
- County Assembly Service: County Assemblies Service Boards, County Staff.
- The General Public
Overview of CAF
The County Assemblies Forum (CAF) was formed in 2013, expanding the membership of its predecessor, the County Assemblies Speakers’ Forum (CASF), to include members of County Assemblies. CAF is a coordinating body of the forty-seven (47) County Assemblies established by the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 under Article 176. CAF is registered as a Society under the Societies Act, Laws of Kenya. The mandate of CAF is to support the County Assemblies perform their three core functions: law making, oversight and representation. CAF has its head office in Nairobi, where its Secretariat is based.
The Governance Structure of CAF
The governance structure of CAF is made up the General Assembly (GA) of 2,248 members, the Governing Council (GC) of 141 members, the Executive Committee (EC) of 21 officials, and five sub-committees, namely intergovernmental relations, communications, member services, legal and research, and finance and administration.
For ease of interaction and to enable regular meetings among its members, CAF divided the 47 County Assemblies of the Republic of Kenya into eight administrative clusters:
1). North Rift: Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Trans Nzoia.
2). South Rift: Nakuru, Kericho, Bomet, Laikipia, Narok, Kajiado, Samburu.
3). Central: Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga.
4). Eastern: Meru, Kitui, Makueni, Isiolo, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Marsabit.
5). Nyanza: Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira.
6). Western: Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia.
7). North Eastern: Mandela, Wajir, Garissa, Nairobi.
8). Coast: Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, Taita Taveta.
CAF has made several achievements and milestones since its establishment in 2013, as outlined in the following sub-sections:
- Successful lobbying of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) on revision of terms of engagement for MCAs.
- Negotiation with Senate, Controller of Budget (CoB), Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), National Treasury and Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on the financial autonomy of County Assemblies. This resulted in the opening and operationalization of development accounts for County Assemblies at the CBK.
- Successful lobbing of the Senate to pass several Bills and amend existing legislations crucial to the operations of County Assemblies and County Governments.
- Successful negotiation with the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) to have Regulation 25 (1) (f) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2012, annulled as it was ultra vires to Section 107 (2A) of the PFMA in the sense that it intended to impose new ceilings on County Assemblies when the correct procedure had already been included in the parent Act.
- Successful negotiation with the judicial system regarding matters that posed challenges to the functioning of the County Assemblies (five cases were lodged in the courts, four of which have been concluded).
- Liaising with the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) in developing a publication on the legislative process (A Guide to the Legislative Process in Kenya) and county model laws to strengthen the legislative role of County Assemblies.
- Partnering with the Transition Authority (TA) to develop a framework for transfer and/or sharing of public assets and liabilities between the national and County Governments and to constitute an inter-agency technical committee that developed a uniform scheme of service for all County Assemblies.
- Successful negotiation with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to conduct a job evaluation of MCAs and County Assemblies staff.
- Successful lobbying of the Senate to have the following legislations passed:
- The County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act, 2014. The Act provides for the powers, privileges and immunities of County Assemblies, their committees and members, and makes provisions for regulating admittance to and conduct within the precincts of County Assemblies.
- The Public Appointments (County Assemblies Approval) Act, 2014. The Act provides the procedure for the approval of public appointments by County Assemblies.
- The County Government (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2016, which provides for the procedure to be followed in the event of suspension of a County Government. It provides for the procedure for the disposal of a report of a commission of inquiry under Article 192(2) and provides for the termination or suspension of a County Government by the Senate.
Membership Capacity Development
- CAF made several achievements on the capacity development of members:
- Inducted MCAs and County Assembly staff on their functions. This included training members of County Assemblies’ budget and appropriations committees in partnership with the Society for International Development (SID).
- Trained County Assemblies’ fiscal analysts and clerks to budget and appropriations committees on the budget-making process.
- Trained human resource officers of all the 47 counties on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD) system in partnership with the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.
- Trained all County Assemblies staffon the use of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) system, which was installed along with an e-banking system to ensure financial autonomy in County Assemblies.
- Facilitated consultative meetings and capacity building of assembly public accounts committee members through Accountability Kenya (a body that brings together the public accounts committees of the Senate, the National Assembly and the County Assemblies).
- Developed a Bills tracker to follow the law-making constitutional mandate of all the 47 County Assemblies.
- Contributed to the development of a public participation framework through a process led by civil society organizations such as The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA).
CAF facilitated peer learning and networking for members through several activities:
- Convened two General Assembly summits in 2014.
- Convened four women legislators’ conferences ― in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
- Convened three pre-conference events for all the specially-abled legislators.
- Convened three annual legislative summits ― in 2016, 2017 and 2018 ― in partnership with the Senate.
- Organized the 47 County Assemblies into eight administrative clusters for ease of member interaction. This has enabled members to hold regular meetings.
- Established six chapters to objectively and speedily address issues raised by members.
- Developed a database to enhance communication among members and various structures of governance.
- Initiated and operationalized a flagship short message service (SMS) platform to facilitate information dissemination and feedback among members.
- Operational website.
Institutional Capacity Development
CAF made several achievements in its institutional capacity development:
- registered CAF under the Societies Act;
- recruited core staff and established a functional Secretariat;
- developed and operationalized finance, administration and human resource systems;
- developed policies and procedure manuals to guide the human resource, financial, and procurement management functions;
- developed a member subscription system for the sustainability of CAF with annual contributions from members;
- developed election protocols for the governance structures of CAF;
- established an elaborate governance structure, which includes the Governing Council of 141 members from the 47 County Assemblies and the 21-member Executive Committee; and
- developed and operationalized a five-year strategic plan.
The Constitution and the Law on Devolution
Devolution remains the biggest gain from the Constitution that was promulgated in August 2010, ushering in a new political and economic governance system. The Constitution created two levels of government ― at the national and county level. This change made nationwide matters, including policy and non-severable functions such as defense and security the responsibility of the National Government while local needs such as delivery of various services were made the responsibility of the 47 County Governments. Both the National and County Governments were allowed autonomy of planning, budgeting and financial management within a national planning and public finance framework.
The main objectives of this change were to bring the government closer to citizens, increase civic engagement, improve service delivery, as well as achieve equity across the nation in resource sharing. Despite each level of government having unique mandates, the Constitution demands significant cooperation and coordination between the two. Both levels of government are meant to perform their respective functions within the framework of intergovernmental relations while also respecting the functional distinctness between them, as provided for under the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution.
Article 179(1) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that there shall be a government for each county consisting of a County Assembly and a County Executive.
The County Assembly (CA) is made up of elected and nominated members (MCAs) and a Speaker elected from among persons who are not MCAs. Administrative support is provided by a Clerk and assisting staff. The CA is modeled along the lines of the National Assembly. The functions of the CA are representation of citizens, law-making and oversight. Article 185 vests the legislative authority of a county in the County Assembly, giving it powers to make any laws that are necessary for, or incidental to, the effective performance of the functions and exercise of the powers of the County Governments under the Fourth Schedule. The Constitution also gives the County Assembly power to exercise oversight over the executive arm of the County Governments.
Section 12 of the County Governments Act, 2012, provides for the establishment of a County Assembly Service Board (CASB) in each of the 47 counties. The CASB is composed of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the majority leader, the minority leader and the County Assembly clerk, who serves as the board’s secretary. The role of CASB is to ensure that the County Assembly is well resourced and that the welfare and capacity building needs of the assembly’s staff are taken care of.
Section 8 of the County Governments Act, 2012, stipulates that the County Assembly shall
- vet and approve nominees for appointment to county public offices as may be provided for in this Act or any other law;
- perform the roles set out under Article 185 of the Constitution; and
- approve the budget and expenditure of the County Governments in accordance with Article 207 of the Constitution, and the legislation contemplated in Article 220(2) of the Constitution, guided by articles 201 and 203 of the Constitution.
The MCA plays a critical representation role. The role of the MCA is stipulated in Section 9 (1) of the County Governments Act:
- maintain close contact with the electorate and consult it on issues before or under discussion in the County Assembly;
- present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the County Assembly;
- attend sessions of the County Assembly and its committees;
- provide a link between the County Assembly and the electorate on public service delivery; and
- extend experience and professional or specialized knowledge to any issue for discussion in the County Assembly.
During these past five years, several milestones have been achieved in the establishment and operationalization of the new system of government:
- Establishment and full operationalization of all 47 County Governments.
- Enactment of several laws to implement devolution, as stipulated in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The key laws enacted to operationalize devolution include the County Governments Act, 2012; the Intergovernmental Relations Act No. 2 of 2012; the Transition to Devolved Government Act, No. 1 of 2012; the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and its regulations; the Leadership and Integrity Act No. 19 of 2012; The Transition County Appropriation Act, No. 7 of 2013; the Constituencies Development Fund Act, No. 30 of 2013; the National Government Coordination Act, No. 1 of 2013; the Urban Areas and Cities Act, No. 13 of 2011; the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2015; the County Assembly Services Act, No. 24 of 2017; and the County Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act, 2017.
- Transfer of most of the devolved functions from the National to County Government, resulting in improved access to public services by citizens, especially in health and water.
- Establishment and operationalization of several devolution institutions including the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC), the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC), the Council of Governors (CoG), and the County Assemblies Forum (CAF). These institutions have served as platforms for consultation and coordination between the National and County Governments.
- Establishment of a national framework to provide capacity building and technical assistance to County Governments.
- Development of legislative processes and model laws to guide relevant offices at the county level in the law-making process.
- Development of guidelines for the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), the Annual Development Plan (ADP), the County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) and annual estimates to guide the counties in budget planning and execution.
- Successful development and implementation of the first generation CIPD (2013-2017) and commencement of the development of the second generation CIPD (2018-2022).
Key Challenges Facing Devolution
Despite the progress in devolution, there are several challenges that still bedevil the implementation of the new system of government:
- Diverse interpretations of the roles and functions between the National and County Government, as outlined in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution.
- Incomplete unbundling and transfer of some key devolved functions.
- Low revenue collection by County Governments.
- Delayed disbursement of funds by the National Treasury to the counties.
- Inadequate capacity of various institutions at the county level.
- There is inadequate funding to assemblies to conduct proper oversight.
- High levels of corruption both at the national and county level. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) ranks some of the counties high on the corruption index.
- Divisive politics and vested interests among MCAs frustrate proper oversight of the executive.
- MCAs have low capacity to generate motions and Bills, and to understand their roles fully. Bills are passed with minimal public engagement.
- Ignorance of the public on its role in participation in governance and the general structure of devolution.
- County Assemblies use ineffective or inaccessible modes of communication to inform the public.
- Failure of County Assemblies to meet the constitutional threshold of representation of marginalized groups such as women, youth and people with disabilities through the electoral processes.
- Frustration of devolution by some government officials who hold the view that the system will not work.
- Sabotage of County Assemblies by the County Executives’ withholding of budgetary allocations and failing to assign an independent vote.
- Ineffective civil society participation in serving as a public watchdog and holding the County Government to account.