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National Assembly in new push to have village elders join civil service

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If it is passed into law, the move will see more than 45,000 village elders get into the civil service.

The decision by the National Assembly to approve with ease a Bill sponsored by Kibwezi West MP Mwengi Mutuse to recognise village administrative units and remunerate the village elders could see them join the civil service.

If it is passed into law, the move will see more than 45,000 village elders get into the civil service. Currently, the government has urged Kenyans to give their views on its proposals for the changes in restructuring administrative units with respect to village elders.

The Bill seeks to have Section 14 of the National Government Coordination Act amended to ensure that the national government administration structure has villages and village heads.

Mutuse, who is also the vice-chairman of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, defended his proposal saying village elders provide important services to the public at no cost, contrary to provisions of Article 41 of the Constitution on fair labour practices.

Mutuse proposes that each village elder earn a monthly stipend of between Sh7,000 and Sh12,445.

Public participation

In the published public participation notice by Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, Kenyans have until June 6 to give their views and written memoranda on the proposed legislation and the National Government Village Administration Policy.

Some of the issues that the government wants Kenyans to give their views on are the village elders' academic qualifications, recruitment and retirement age, and duties and remuneration of the village elders.

"Village elders resolve disputes within communities, promote peaceful co-existence, address security issues and enforce government policies such as ensuring all children attend schools and go for mass vaccinations," said Mutuse.

The lawmaker said that he has gone ahead to initiate discussions with the Prof. Kithure Kindiki-led Ministry of Interior as well as the Parliamentary Budget Office on what earnings the village elders can earn and came up with Sh7,000 per month, an amount he says "isn't bad".

"After numerous consultations, it was felt that such a monumental reform proposal required government backing especially because of the huge budgetary implications, and I'm pleased that the government is carrying forward this initiative," he said.

In his bid to have village administrators paid, the lawmaker has even gone ahead to perform benchmarking with several countries that have adopted and enlisted village heads including Rwanda, Tanzania, Botswana, Ghana and Indonesia.

"I urge Kenyans to support our village heads who are very instrumental in safeguarding our nation's socio-economic fabric," the MP said.

Should each of the 9,045 sub-locations in the country get five village elders, taxpayers will have to part with Sh3.9 billion annually.

If the elders are paid Sh12,445 per month, which is the average basic salary for general labour, it will cost about Sh7.09 billion every year. This excludes the recruitment expenses in the first year.

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