The government will work with Parliament to ensure that the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) is anchored in the law.
Addressing the 47 Speakers of the county assemblies in Karen on Tuesday, Deputy President William Ruto said that there is no excuse for treating legislature at the national and county levels differently yet they both discharge constitutional mandates.
He said by being recognised by the law, CAF would smoothen the functioning of assemblies.
“The platform would enable assemblies to work together, and draw best practices from each other. The critical role you have now as assemblies is to partner with the national leadership in changing the politics of our country,” said Mr Ruto.
He noted that the politics of prejudices and hate had for a long time undermined Kenya’s progress.
While appreciating the fact that the implementation of the Big Four will have challenges if counties are not involved in it, the Deputy President urged the Speakers to strategically position their assemblies in playing an active role in its roll-out.
Whatever policy decisions that are being pursued at county levels, he said, they must be in tandem with the grand development plan of manufacturing, housing, food stability and universal healthcare.
“You should guide your assemblies to come up with laws that make their counties competitive,” he said.
He regretted that the punitive laws passed by the Kitui County Assembly in the last five years had seen coal investors exit the region.
“The laws you pass may sound popular, but not right. As Speakers, you need to strike a balance between what is popular with the people against what is necessary for investments to take place in your counties.”
CAF Chairman Johnson Osoi said Speakers need to be placed at their rightful place “so that we can drive the devolution and Big Four agenda effectively”.
“Why, for instance, are we put in the same level as clerks? We need more legal and political recognition so that we can play our roles effectively,” said Mr Osoi who is also the Kajiado County Assembly Speaker.
Siaya County Speaker George Okode said there is need for the Big Four agenda to be mainstreamed in the County Assemblies Development Plan.
On her part, Machakos Assembly Speaker Florence Mwangangi said that they will support the government in the implementation of the Big Four, saying “our proximity to Nairobi, and the huge chunk of land offers a fertile ground for the housing development plan”.
“We may be from different political formations, but we will work together for a better Kenya,” said Kilifi Speaker Kadhua Kahindi.
While supporting Mr Kahindi’s sentiments, Nairobi County Speaker Beatrice Elachi called on the assemblies to be on the forefront in making devolution work in transforming Kenya.
“We must time tighten our roles by ensuring that counties minimise on wastage of public resources. We should also champion for the channeling of public funds to gainful projects that would empower Kenyans,” she said.