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Chaos as Kiambu ward reps fight in budget stalemate

Friday March 22 2019

Kiambu MCAs fight in the county assembly

Kiambu MCAs fight in the county assembly chambers on March 21, 2019 following a disagreement on a supplementary budget which was being tabled. PHOTO | ERIC WAINAINA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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There was chaos at the Kiambu County Assembly Thursday as legislators exchanged blows and hurled bottles of water at each other in what signalled deep personal differences over the running of the county’s affairs.

The chaos erupted over differences in the contents of the supplementary budget which was being tabled.

The supplementary budget proposes, among other things, the reduction of the development money by over half a billion shillings, an increase in salaries by over Sh1 billion and the approval of Sh356 million which financed operations of the controversial rehabilitation programme dubbed Kaa sober.

KAA SOBER

In the document, Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s administration wants the assembly to pass over Sh356 million which financed operations of Kaa sober between July and December last year. The money was spent without the approval of the assembly as required by the law.

On Thursday, trouble started when Kiuu MCA Daniel Ngugi, who was, during a stormy session on Tuesday afternoon, picked as the chairman of an ad hoc committee and mandated to push for the approval of the document, attempted to table it without a notice of motion as required in the standing orders.

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THOROUGH SCRUTINY

A section of the members who were against it on grounds that it requires thorough scrutiny before being discussed tried to object to its tabling but all in vain as Speaker Stephen Ndichu insisted that it must be debated and Mr Ngugi given a second chance to read the notice of motion.

But as Mr Ngugi was reading the notice, one of the members hurled a bottle on water while others begun shouting to protest the manner in which it was being presented, leading to a brief chaotic scene before the Speaker called the House to order.

However, as Mr Ngugi continued to make his presentation, members begun questioning why the supplementary budgets was being hurried and shortly after, some members took to the floor while shouting. Others engaged in fist fights.

BLOWS

Ndenderu MCA Solomon Kinuthia was among the members who found themselves on the receiving end after a number of his colleagues rained blows on him and even tore his jacket during the chaos which lasted for close to ten minutes as the Speaker watched.

The sergeant-at-arms unsuccessfully tried to throw him and other rowdy members out of the chambers.

As the situation seemed to go out of hand, Mr Ndichu, whom the MCAs accused on bias and serving the interests of the executive, adjourned the session and was escorted by the sergeant-at-arms and Administration Police officers out of the chambers through the backdoor.

MASSIVE MISAPPROPRIATION

Ikinu Ward Rep Stanley Kiarie said the report highlighted massive misappropriation of money by the executive and that the move to hurriedly pass it was a cover-up plot intended to ensure that the House does not scrutinise it.

“The report is huge and the ad hoc committee was selected on Tuesday evening. How were they able to scrutinise it and come up with a report within just two days?” wondered Mr Kiarie who has been a member of the Budget and Finance Committee which was split on Tuesday evening in a session that was marred by shouting.

SPLIT COMMITTEE

Limuru East MCA Karuga Ngigi, who is also the chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, said the move to split the committee was a conspiracy to ensure that the report is passed by “hook or crook”.

“The ad hoc committee was created unprocedurally through a conspiracy between the executive, the Speaker and a section of MCAs to force the approval of the report because our committee had expressed concerns that it highlighted possible massive misappropriation and insisted that the executive must give explanations,” Mr Karuga said.