Six counties in central Kenya have been hit by leadership wrangles as politicians take positions with an eye on next year’s General Election.
The worst hit is Nyeri, where Governor Nderitu Gachagua’s absence from the county for the last three months has triggered a political storm.
Woman Representative Priscilla Nyokabi on Monday called for change in the county’s leadership owing to Mr Gachagua’s unexplained absence.
The last time Mr Gachagua was seen in public was on December 26 last year in Mukurwe-ini during the burial of former Nairobi mayor Dick Wathika.
Though Ms Nyokabi on Wednesday denied calling for Mr Gachagua’s ouster, saying she only made a general comment about the county’s leadership, critics have taken to social media to question how the county can run without the governor’s input.
But the governor’s brother, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, on Wednesday explained that the county chief is in hospital for a “medical review” but did not disclose the location of the medical facility.
Meanwhile, in Laikipia, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu and Nyandarua counties, deputy governors are up in arms against their bosses as the battle for their bosses’ mansions rages across central Kenya.
At the heart of the public and noisy brawls is the control of crucial dockets and tenders, next year’s General Election and a clash of egos between the county chiefs and their deputies.
Deputy governors, under pressure to convince voters to re-elect them, are complaining that they have no authority over resources and cannot therefore show what they have achieved since assuming power.
In Kirinyaga, Deputy Governor Julius Njiri has taken on his boss Joseph Ndathi, accusing him of refusing to allocate him specific duties and that he had been unable to carry out development projects in his backyard of Mwea constituency, a key source of swing votes.
Residents had been asking him to point out the development projects he had started or influenced, but he felt embarrassed because he had no answers for them, said Mr Njiri, who is believed to be eyeing another political seat.
Mr Ndathi has rejected claims that he has failed to share power and accused his deputy of working with his political rivals to destabilise the county.
In Laikipia, the marriage between Governor Joshua Irungu and his deputy Josphat Gitonga did not even make it past the honeymoon stage.
They fell out almost immediately after the election.
Mr Gitonga has accused the governor of failing to involve him in picking the county executives and of reneging on a pre-election agreement to give him the Finance docket and instead assigned him Water and Natural Resources.
The disgruntled Mr Gitonga has since been removed from the Water docket and appointed the supervisor of the county executives, which has only worsened the relationship between the two.
In March last year, the two claimed to have buried the hatchet after a reconciliation meeting at Green Hills, Nyeri, convened by the county assembly.
A few months later, Mr Gitonga publicly accused the governor of mistreating him.
During Mashujaa Day celebrations last year, Mr Gitonga, who had been asked to invite his boss to address the people, took the opportunity to dress him down.
“If a person wears a clean suit every day and fails to bathe, he will still stink,” he said, adding that county executives had been insulting and harassing him, while his duties had been given to the majority leader in the county assembly, Mr Mwangi Kamakia, who has since died.
He accused the governor of denying him an official vehicle.
Mr Irungu watched pensively as his deputy criticised him relentlessly. Twice the microphone was switched away but Mr Gitonga went on with his tirade as the bemused crowd watched in consternation.
In Murang’a, the deputy, Mr Gakure Monyo, doesn’t have an official car or even an office, a symbol of the caustic relationship between him and his boss Mwangi wa Iria.
His office was demolished by county officials after he fell out with Mr Wa Iria, who accused him of being behind a plot to impeach him. The deputy’s cause was not helped by claims by pro-Wa Iria members of the county assembly that he tried to bribe them to support the governor’s impeachment.
In Nyandarua, wars between Governor Waithaka Mwangi and his deputy Mwangi Kirika started last year over corruption claims in the administration.
Mr Kirika is said to have agreed with the contents of the Auditor-General’s report which indicated that more than Sh700 million was lost in the first year of the county’s leadership.
Across the border in Embu, there has been no love lost between Governor Martin Wambora and his deputy Dorothy Nditi ever since the Senate endorsed a motion to impeach the him over corruption claims.
The Senate had ruled that Ms Nditi should take over as governor.
Things worsened after Ms Nditi made an application to be sworn in as governor, while Mr Wambora was busy in court fighting efforts to kick him out.
Mr Wambora successfully lodged an appeal against the impeachment at the Court of Appeal and since then Ms Nditi has complained about being sidelined in decision-making processes and the fact that she had never been given official duties.