Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has denied contempt of court allegations levelled against him by the embattled chairman of Muranga Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) Peter Munga who wants the county boss jailed for seven months for disobeying court orders.
The governor, in his replying affidavit to Mr Munga’s notice of motion filed on August 22, says he issued a gazette notice No 8391 following the Murang’a High Court ruling which stated that water is a devolved function under the county government.
The ruling declined to grant an application by Muwasco and Mr Munga seeking to bar the governor from interfering with the running of the water firm.
“That I deny the allegation that my action amounts to contempt of the High Court in JR 5 of 2017. If anything, my actions are in harmony with the court’s ruling on record,” the governor says in his affidavit.
The Murang’a High Court on April 30 ruled that “...needless to say, the county government’s ability to realise its constitutional function of providing water and sanitation services may be gradual and incremental. But, again, needless to say, the applicants must in equal measure give way gradually to the county government in this regard as they move towards eventually winding up their business.”
After the ruling, Muwasco sought for an interpretation and on December 7, 2017 the court ruled that “...after promulgation of the new constitution, the ex parte applicant would have a limited time to continue doing so independently, because the provision of water and sanitation services was now a devolved function of the county government of Murang’a, and that they would probably continue to provide services only until such a time as the county government was ready to take on that function.”
It is the two court rulings that the governor is citing in his affidavit, saying that the Murang’a County government has been ready to take up its mandate to provide water for eight years but “has been frustrated by the petitioner and Muwasco who are keen to retain their privileged and profitable operations at the expense of the people of Murang’a.”
He adds that in December 2017, the Water Services Regulatory Board directed Muwasco to amend its memorandum and articles to have the county government as the main shareholder of the water firm and that persons over 60 years old should cease their membership, a directive they ignored.
Mr Munga is 76 years old and has been the chairman of Muwasco since its inception.
Mr Wa Iria further states that the matter before the labour court “is not an employment and labour matter, nor a company law issue nor a Water Act issue but a constitutional decree which must be carried out however painful and unpalatable it is to Mr Munga.”
He adds that the matter is before Murang’a High Court and thus the decision to litigate the matter at the labour court by the petitioner was an abuse of a court process and risks embarrassing both courts.
“The application is therefore hopeless, unmeritorious, an abuse of court process and should be dismissed with costs,” reads Mr Wa Iria’s affidavit filed by Mbugua Ng’ang’a Advocates.