A County Assembly Committee is a group of Members of the County Assembly designated to do the detailed work of the County Assembly. The Members are expected to work together toward a common goal, and may work without the restrictions of formality. Section 14 (1)(b) of the County Governments Act, 2012 provides that subject to the standing orders, a county assembly “may establish committees in such a manner and for such general or special purposes as it considers fit, and regulate the procedure of any committee so established”. Committees perform specific roles on behalf of the Assembly. Therefore, their mandate and powers are given by the Assembly, through the County Assembly Standing Orders (Second Edition) or resolution by the County Assembly.

This therefore implies that the mandate and powers cannot be assumed by the Committees i.e. the Committee may not go beyond the scope of the particular duties entrusted to it by the Standing Orders or by resolution of the Assembly. The Committees may also not work independently of the Assembly. The power and mandate of the Committee are for the whole Committee not its individual members i.e. the mandate of Committees has to be exercised or discharged at a properly constituted meeting. No decision of the Committee is binding unless the meeting was properly constituted in terms of notice of meeting, quorum and the leadership. Committees of the Assembly make recommendations to the Plenary of the Assembly in the form of resolutions. Their recommendations may or may not be acted upon by the Assembly or may be rejected or ignored altogether.

IMPORTANCE OF COMMITTEES

Committees are integral parts for the conduct of Assembly business. An effective Committee system makes the Assembly to be more responsive to the needs of the electorate while making the role of the Members more relevant and the democratic process more representative of, and accountable to, the views of the electorate. Committees are important in at least the following ways:

  1. They provide opportunities for public input into the legislative processes;
  2. They relieve the pressure of business on the floor of the Assembly and therefore contribute to the achievement of efficiency;
  3. Committees conduct detailed investigation into an issue which may not be carried out efficiently and effectively by the whole County Assembly and therefore contributes to the attainment of democratic ideals especially transparency and accountability;
  4. Committees can conduct public hearings where representatives or organizations and experts on particular subjects may be invited to give advice. This allows Committees to be more effective in making sound decisions while allowing groups of citizens a voice in policy making;
  5. Make legislators work faster;
  6. Enables legislators get full details in specific issues before the Assembly;
  7. Make the Assembly perform many tasks at the same time;
  8. Meeting point between legislators and the executive;
  9. Reviewing legislation;
  10. Scrutinizing the county government’s activities, policies and programs and whether they meet the objectives of legislation as intended;
  11. Conducting investigations and inquiries into matters relating to their mandate. Committees perform functions which the County Assembly while in Plenary is not well-suited to perform in its corporate form, such as;
    • Receiving views from the public;
    • Summoning witnesses to present oral evidence, written memoranda or documents;
    • Frequent sittings away from the precincts of the County Assembly and for longer unregulated hours;
    • Sifting evidence and formulating reasoned conclusions without observing strict rules of procedure; and
    • Carrying out inspection tours and inquiries on matters for subsequent reporting to the Assembly
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