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Battle lines drawn in Alfred Mutua-Bernard Kiala rivalry

Thursday January 15 2015

Machakos Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala’s car is towed away from the Machakos Level Five Hospital on January 14, 2015.

Machakos Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala’s car is towed away from the Machakos Level Five Hospital on January 14, 2015. Mr Kiala had gone to the hospital to assess a health workers’ strike when guards arrested ward reps who had accompanied him. PHOTO | STEPHEN MUTHINI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

STEPHEN MUTHINI
By STEPHEN MUTHINI
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Battle lines have been drawn between Governor Alfred Mutua and his deputy Bernard Kiala, with the latter coming out forcefully to challenge his boss’ leadership.

Whereas the deputy governor has been guarded since he fell out with Dr Mutua, during a rally in Athi River on Sunday, he was proposed to take over the governorship by Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama.

Since then, there has been no turning back as Mr Kiala has taken every available opportunity to discredit Dr Mutua’s leadership.

This was apparent on Tuesday when Mr Kiala toured the Machakos Level Five Hospital to assess the impact of a strike by health workers, which had lasted two days.

The workers downed their tools because of non-remittance of statutory deductions.

Mr Kiala warned the county government that he would be calling for an investigation into the matter, which according to him bordered on fraud.

“I do not understand why money was deducted from salaries and not remitted. This county may be facing a serious case of fraud,” he said.

Governor Mutua seems not to have taken the threat to oust him lightly if the reaction from his government this week is anything to go by.

He played down the possibility of an impeachment Motion succeeding, saying the majority of ward reps are on his side.

The arrest of two MCAs during a confrontation between rival camps and the towing of the deputy governor’s car shows Dr Mutua is prepared to take his challengers head-on.

During the Sunday rally at Makadara in Athi River, Senator Muthama and Mr Kiala as well as 20 MCAs addressed the residents.

Although Dr Mutua is his superior, the deputy governor quoted an Akamba saying which portrayed him as a child.

Kana kakunzia ithe ngundi kakunawa ta mundu muima,” he said. (When a child clenches his fists to fight with his father, he is beaten senseless, just like a grown up).

It is not clear who “the father” that is referred to in the saying is.

'POLITICS OF POVERTY'

Dr Mutua appears not to subscribe to the Wiper Party politics as seen in a move last year where together with Kitui County Governor Dr Julius Malombe and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, they held a series of rallies where they threatened to stop cooperating with the party.

They accused the Wiper leader of stoking political fires in the region. Last Sunday, Dr Mutua said he is not bothered with Mr Muthama and his group’s “politics of poverty”.

“I am too busy working for my people of Machakos who are poor and do not have time to engage politicians like Senator Muthama whose main agenda is to slow down and stop development,” said the governor in a text message.

Dr Mutua’s sentiments were echoed by Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka in an interview with a local radio station (Milele FM) on Wednesday morning.
Mr Musyoka said although the governor is not perfect, his development record is there for all to see.

In a veiled reference to Wiper leader, the MP said there are people in Ukambani who see Governor Mutua as a threat because they assume the leadership of the region is their right.

“There are people who have been in leadership for 30 years and have not assisted us. They did not provide water for the people and now they do not want the governor to change things,” Mr Musyoka said.