The role of the Speaker of the County Assembly in Kenya is an important role in the County Assembly. A County Assembly speaker is the leader of the County Assembly.
Article 178 of the Kenyan Constitution (2010) provides for the position of the Speaker of the County Assembly. Therefore, the role of the Speaker of the County Assembly in Kenya emanates from the Supreme Law (Constitution).
The County Assembly Speaker presides over the sittings of the county assembly. In their absence, the Deputy Speaker (who should be an elected MCA who is elected by the Assembly to be deputy speaker) should preside over the sittings of the County Assembly.
In the absence of the speaker and deputy speaker, members of the county assembly should elect, from among themselves, a person to preside at the sitting of the county assembly.
Both the speaker and the deputy speaker are selected in accordance with the standing orders of their respective county assemblies
The role of the Speaker of the County Assembly Speaker in Kenya includes the following:
- presiding over the debates of the County Assembly at every sitting of the Assembly,
- maintaining County Assembly attendance register,
- enforce the observance of the Constitution, the Standing Orders, relevant statute and Assembly traditions, procedures and practices,
- disciplining members of County Assembly for misconduct in the county assembly,
- issuing orders and making rules for the regulation of visitors to the County Assembly precincts,
- administer the oath of affirmation or allegiance to Members,
- issue writs for vacant County Assembly seats,
- protect the rights of the minority while making sure that the majority have their way,
- organize the business of the House as they are the Chairman of the House Business Committee,
- spokesperson of the County Assembly and shall ensure that the dignity of the County Assembly and by extension, the Assembly, is upheld and its rights and privileges are not abused,
- the Speaker is the final authority on all matters touching on the interpretation and application of the practice and procedure of Assembly at all times.
Section 9A of the County Governments Act says the following about the county assembly speaker:
The speaker of a county assembly should be elected, in accordance with standing orders of the respective county assemblies, from among persons who are eligible to be elected as members of a county assembly but are not such members.
Section 9A(1) of the County Governments Act
Therefore, the qualifications of a County Assembly Speaker in Kenya are similar to those of a County Assembly Member (MCA) These qualifications include the following:
- be a Kenyan citizen for at least 10 years before the election;
- not hold dual citizenship;
- not owe allegiance to a foreign state;
- be a registered voter;
- be nominated by a Political Party or is an independent candidate.
However, the person should not be an elected member of the County Assembly (or nominated) like other members. A Member of the County Assembly only qualifies to be chosen as a deputy speaker.
The office of the speaker becomes vacant—
- when a new county assembly first meets after an election;
- if the officeholder is disqualified from being elected as a member of a county assembly on grounds specified under Article 193(2) of the Constitution;
- if the county assembly so resolves by a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of all the members of the county assembly;
- if the office holder resigns from office in a letter addressed to the county assembly; or
- if the officeholder dies.
The speaker may be removed, if the county assembly so resolves by a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of all the members of the county assembly, on any of the following grounds —
- gross violation of the Constitution or any other law;
- gross misconduct;
- if convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for at least six months; or
- inability to perform the functions of the office of speaker arising from mental or physical incapacity.
A notice of the intention to move a motion for a resolution to remove the speaker should —
- be given in writing to the clerk of the county assembly;
- be signed by at least one-third of all the members of the county assembly; and
- state the grounds for removal as specified above.
A motion for the removal of the speaker should specify —
- the grounds for removal which the speaker is in breach; and
- the facts constituting those grounds.
Upon notice of the motion being given, the clerk of the county assembly should within five days—
- notify the speaker; and
- invite the speaker to respond, within seven days, in writing setting out the grounds of opposition;
The speaker should not perform any of the functions of the office of the speaker pending the resolution of the county assembly.
The speaker should have the right to appear and be represented before the county assembly during its investigations.
The county assembly should consider the motion within fourteen days and resolve whether to approve the motion.
The office of a deputy speaker should become vacant if —
- the office holder vacates office pursuant to Article 194 of the Constitution; or
- the county assembly so resolves by a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of all the members of the county assembly.
The procedure above to remove a county speaker should, with necessary modifications, apply to the removal of a deputy speaker.