Poverty stricken Former councilors who represented various wards in the defunct local authorities are appealing for help after being neglected by the County and national governments.
The ex -councilors pushing for the Sh18 billion sendoff package for about 12,000 for former councilors who served from 1963 have called on the senate to fast track their petition on retirement package.
The former councilors made a petition in 2015 to the Senate pursuant to Article 119 of the Constitution of Kenya and the Standing Order No. 24 of the Senate by the forum of former councilors who served in the defunct local authorities in Kenya since Independence.
According to the petition, the majority of those who served as councilors in the defunct local authorities since Independence are now living in squalor and faced with a myriad of challenges, including inability to cope with the deteriorating health in the absence of health insurance covers.
They said that they have made the best efforts to have this issue addressed by the relevant organs and agencies without any positive outcome.
The former leaders cited that they faithfully and diligently served the people of Kenya as councilors and in various capacities under the defunct local authorities prior to 2013 General Elections when the said local authorities were dissolved to give way to the devolved system of Government.
They said that while former Members of Parliament and other elective and appointive government officials are entitled to and indeed enjoy pension and gratuity packages that ensure they live comfortably once out of office, there exists no similar mechanism to compensate or appreciate those who served this country faithfully as councilors under the defunct local authorities.
Led by former Kapenguria Mayor Mr.Christopher Lonyala want the National Assembly and the government to speed up the retirement package process to take care of retired councilors similar to that given to former Members of Parliament and other political leaders.
“Making provision for payment of a monthly pension of at least Kshs 30, 000,”said Lonyala.
They also want make provision for state-sponsored health insurance for all persons who have served as councilors in Kenya since Independence by making provision for access by former councilors to premises and facilities of the current County Assemblies, including canteens and Speaker’s Galleries in our respective County Assemblies.
“Many former councilors have died mere paupers. We are the one who started major cities like Nairobi in 1902 and towns like Kapenguria in 1902 and pushed for devolution .Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja should tell us on the progress. We want a provision for former councilors to be exempted from paying car parking fees and other rates and fees while within the respective local authorities where they served,”said Lonyala.
The former elected and nominated leaders claimed that many of them are now living in abject poverty and that the time has come for the government to come to their aid and compensate them.
Speaking to the press on Monday in Kapenguria, Lonyala said that there has been nothing given to the Councilors and no mechanism for their pension was ever put in place.
“We have been discriminated against as far as social financial protection is concerned in spite of being able to mobilize and sensitize people towards certain causes or ideologies,” he said.
He said that it is a shameful state of affairs to see the majority of former Councilors wallowing in poverty while sarcastically being referred to as leaders.
“We laid a foundation on which we are building devolution. We performed our duties diligently and we saw development in the deepest parts of our villages. It is embarrassing we have been neglected,” said Lonyala
Lonyala said that they need to be paid for good work they did during their time in office.
“We are in support of devolution but we wish the government compensate us since we did a crucial role during our time,” he said
He urged Governors to remember them and extend a helping hand to former councilors.
“Our cars should not be charged for parking yet they build towns .They should give us The National Social Security Fund [NSSF] and National Health Insurance Fund [NHIF] .Our lives are in the hands of the task force and government,” noted Lonyala.
Kapenguria Deputy Mayor Mr. William Chaparko observed that it was mutually beneficial to reward those former leaders who worked in very poor conditions during the previous regimes.
“We shall make life hard for them if they don’t come to our aid. Most of the former councilors are living in abject poverty and were never paid anything after serving their term,” said Cheparko.
Cheparko blamed Members of Parliament for remaining mum saying that the former councilors who served in the local government were poorly remunerated with most of them living in abject poverty despite serving the community in poor working conditions.
“We wonder why MPs are keeping quiet over the matter,”said Cheparko.
Former Kapenguria Mayor Jacob Samuli called on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Dr. William Ruto to intervene in the matter.