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Governors, MCAs turf wars derail counties plans

Sunday July 14 2019

George Amayo

Kisumu County Assembly Sergeant-At-Arms George Amayo (left) draws his gun after chaos erupted at the assembly on October 23, 2018. In recent months, Kenyans have been treated to chaos, unruly behaviour and disobedience of the law by politicians. PHOTO | COURTESY  

 NYAMBEGA GISESA
By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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Projects running into billions of shillings have stalled across the country and critical operations affected as governors fight with ward representatives for control of county governments.

In some of the counties, persistent wrangles involving MCAs and their Speakers have also grounded operations at assemblies.

OUSTING

According to a Sunday Nation investigation, more than a half of the county governments are in turmoil as a result of the wrangles which have seen over a dozen Executive members impeached.

Speakers have also not been spared from the onslaught of MCAs, with one of them telling the Sunday Nation that he hides the mace, the symbol of power in the County Assembly, in a secret place, so as to frustrate efforts to impeach him.

Despite the crisis in a number of the counties, MCAs and Speakers say that they are only doing their work.

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“Unlike the National Assembly which has been unable to checkmate the Executive, a number of county assemblies are effectively carrying out their oversight and representation roles,” said Nyeri County Assembly Speaker John Kaguchia, who is also a governance expert.

The crisis in counties has been in the spotlight, with the ongoing wrangles in Taita Taveta County seeing governor Granton Samboja initiate a process to dissolve the county government.

The situation in Taita Taveta has been so acrimonious that the MCAs and County Assembly Speaker Meshack Maghanga and governor Samboja have not been on talking terms.

Interestingly, the MCAs now appear to be on the same side with their Speaker after they threatened to impeach him in September last year, accusing him of arrogance and bias.

In Murang’a, wrangles persist after the ousting of six MCAs who are said to be opposed to governor Mwangi wa Iria from the helm of various assembly committees.

IMPASSE

The Sunday Nation has learnt that four of the six MCAs last week filed a motion to withdraw a petition they filed against their removal in efforts to initiate a mediation process to end the impasse.

In April, the six MCAs caused chaos after they stormed the office of the clerk, Chris Kinyanjui, with the intention of serving him with a court order restraining the House from removing them from various departmental committees they served as chairpersons.

In Homa Bay, MCAs allied to governor Cyprian Awiti impeached Speaker Elizabeth Oyoo last year on grounds that she was close to the governor’s political rival, former MP Oyugi Magwanga.

The pro-Awiti MCAs accused Ms Oyoo of poor leadership and mismanagement of the county assembly resources and affairs.

After her impeachment, she moved to court and obtained orders, which allow her to continue presiding over the House’s proceedings until the case that she filed is heard and determined.

In Laikipia, the County Assembly last week impeached the Executive for Finance Boniface Ndai.

EGOS

The County Assembly is also in the final stages of impeaching the Trade, Tourism and Co-operatives executive Nicholas Tirop. The report on Mr Tirop’s impeachment is scheduled to be tabled in the House this week.

In Nairobi, MCAs have vowed not to accept Beatrice Elachi as their Speaker despite a court order reinstating her to office.

Ms Elachi was impeached on September 6, 2018, after 103 MCAs voted to remove her from office.

In her place, the MCAs elected Ngara MCA Chege Mwaura, a close friend of Governor Mike Sonko, as the acting speaker.

In Nyandarua, the clash of egos between governor Francis Kimemia and County Assembly Speaker Ndegwa Wahome has led to frequent disruption of county operations.

In October last year, the MCAs impeached Mr Wahome and replaced him with MCA Gathure Wambui as the acting Speaker. But the embattled Speaker has since obtained a court order allowing him to continue conducting House business.