2022 succession wars fuel county leaders’ wrangles

Monday, May 3rd, 2021 12:00 |
Nyamira MCAs exchange blows as they contested the dewhiping of colleagues from crucial committees. Borabu MP Ben Momanyi has been accused of influencing composition of the House commitees. Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The impeachment of Wajir Governor Mahamud Abdi Mohamed  last week lifted the lid on resurgence of vicious wrangles pitting Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) and governors.

Thirty-seven MCAs voted in favour of Mohamud’s ouster motion tabled by Elnur/TulaTula Ward MCA Abdullahi Issack, while 10 opposed his removal.

The ward representatives cited financial impropriety, abuse of office, gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution as grounds for his ouster.

Speaker Ken Lusaka has gazetted tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday as days for special sittings where senators will, among other things, hear the impeachment charges against the Wajir county boss.

Governor Mahamud’s ouster bid brings to the fore the growing antagonism between ward reps and their Executives.

A number of governors are struggling to win support of MCAs to approve nominees to either fill key positions, pass the budgets or crucial laws.

Some county chiefs allege that ouster motions are being bankrolled by their political opponents, influential politicians and businessmen eyeing the 2022 General Election.

While dismissing the impeachment motion on Sunday, Mahamud blamed his woes on his political detractors keen on 2022 polls for driving a wedge between him and the ward reps.

Without naming names, he said the 37 MCAs, who voted in favour of the ouster motion, were being influenced by politicians based in Nairobi.

“The MCAs are being used by some politicians in Nairobi. Some are eyeing the Wajir top seat in 2022.

I want to tell those using the County Assembly to bring divisions in the county that their days are numbered,”  he said in a statement yesterday.

“I have the Wajir people behind me and I will defeat them (detractors) now and even in the coming elections.

For now, I will do everything to defend my seat, though the impeachment is founded on malice and deceit.”

Campaign secretariat

The governor, who has had various run-ins with MCAs, said the MCAs did not exhaust all existing avenues to resolve disputes with the county executive but had instead played into the hands of individuals with political intent to destabilise the operations of the county government.

As if taking queue from their Wajir counterparts, MCAs in Tana River county impeached Speaker Justin Nkaduda over alleged incompetence, misconduct, abuse of office and early campaigns. 

The mover of the motion, Mikinduni MCA Mohammed Buya Yusa claimed Nkaduda’s quest for Tana River’s governorship had affected his judgment and he could no longer continue serving as Speaker.

“He has failed to address pertinent issues that we have raised before and is busy with 2022 campaigns.

He cannot turn the office of the Speaker into his campaign secretariat,” Yusa told People Daily.

In Embu county, Governor Martin Wambora is under fire from ward reps, who have accused him of neglecting his duties and focusing more towards his new role as chairman of the Council of Governors.

The ward reps have accused Wambora of failing to implement development projects in the county, leaving residents to suffer.

“Governor Wambora is so much obsessed with CoG matters while the region is lagging behind in development,” said Evurore MCA Duncan Mbui.

  He noted with only two months to the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Sh1 billion set aside for development remains unspent.

False accusations

But Wambora has denied the allegations and accused MCAs of being used by his political rivals to taint his name. 

“The MCAs are being used by their masters, who are eyeing the gubernatorial seat in 2022, to level false accusations against me,” he said.

“In fact, some MCAs were not happy when I was elected the CoG chairman and they should leave me alone.” 

The governor, who has in the past tasted the MCAs wrath by being impeached twice but reinstated by the courts, dismissed as falsehoods that Sh1 billion for development has not been utilised.

“There is no such money. The Treasury has not released any funds to us for development and the MCAs should stop lying.

We are struggling even to pay salaries because funds have not been released to counties,” he said.

The county chief stressed that like everywhere else in Kenya, his administration was concentrating on the fight against Covid-19 to save lives.

“No much development can take place when Covid-19 is ravaging lives. All the 47 counties including Embu are engaged in fighting the pandemic and the MCAs should stop misleading the public,” he said.

He insisted that his elevation as CoG chairman has not affected his performance as Embu Governor, adding that the ward reps were insincere.

In Nyamira, Governor Amos Nyaribo has been facing a hostile Assembly since he took office from his predecessor, the late John Nyangarama about 100 days ago.

Trouble started when Nyaribo nominated former West Mugirango MP James Gesami as his deputy.

The governor has been facing resistance with MCAs taking sides which saw the majority (21) vote against his administration and only 15 supporting his agenda.

The fights have drawn in Borabu MP Ben Momanyi, who is alleged to have bribed some MCAs to reject Gesami’s nomination. He denies the bribery accusations.

Momanyi, who is a commissioner with the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), is eyeing the governor’s position in 2022 putting him in a collision path with Nyaribo.

It is also being alleged that Momanyi is meddling in the running of the Assembly by influencing composition of House committees.

The recent establishment of the Public Investments and Accounts Committee and Budget and Appropriations Committee are cited as an example after allies of the governor were locked out.

Contacted, the Borabu lawmaker dismissed the governor as a “cry baby” and asked him use the remaining months to work for the people.

According to him, the Assembly is the overall body that oversights the Executive. 

“It’s hypocritical of him to reward some MCAs with roads contracts and purport that another team is fighting him.

We’re not afraid of anybody. We shall face him and square it out on the ballot. Stop panicking, face us. It’s a free world, it’s just politics,” the MP said.

In Nyandarua county, MCAs impeached Speaker Ndegwa Wahome but a Nakuru court reinstated him pending the ruling on the matter.

Trouble started when the Speaker, who is believed to be eyeing Governor Francis Kimemia’s seat, claimed the county boss has no development record to show for the period he has been in power.

Wahome also accused Kimemia of corruption, a situation that saw the governor vow to have him impeached. The impeachment motion was moved by the Leader of Majority Edward King’ori.

Contacted, Wahome who is the chairman of the County Assemblies Forum, said the squabbles between governors and MCAs are informed by the local dynamics and political realignments ahead of the 2022 elections.

For instance, in Nyandarua county, he said, the war is not about MCAs, they are at the edge of it, and they are not the owners of the war between him and Governor Kimemia.

“Governor Kimemia is the owner of the war, because the issue is about who will be the governor of Nyandarua in 2022 between him, and me,” Wahome told People Daily on phone.

Bigger picture

In Tana River County, Wahome argued the problem is the Assembly Speaker who has declared his intention to challenge Governor Dhadho Godana for the county top seat.

“You will find that if you ask them what is the problem with the Speaker, they will not tell you because they are fighting the governor’s war,” he said

“I have been appealing to all MCAs that even if there are local dynamics, they look at the bigger picture, which is to serve wananchi because if you don’t serve them, there will be consequences,” he added.

As we head to 2022, he said, MCAs should remember that Wanjiku is watching closely and urged them to do what is right and deserving to them.

Last year, MCAs in Kirinyaga, Kitui, Taita Taveta, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega engaged their governors in endless political wrangles, giving the latter sleepless nights.

In an interview with People Daily yesterday, political commentator Beauttah Omanga said impeachment is a tool used as a recourse of last resort that emanates from alleged massive looting, envy and high-handedness by the executives. 

“MCAs feel like they are in most cases sidelined in key decision making by the Executive.  It also stems from resource control,” Omanga, who is the former Bogichora ward MCA said.

Omanga noted in some cases those out to oust the governors in 2022 fuel the wars between ward reps and governors.

He cited Nyamira county where sitting MPs are said to be fuelling tensions to ensure current governor doesn’t deliver because they want to support one of their own to succeed the current governor.

However, he opined both governors and ward representatives are also to blame for endless squabbles as they tend to cling on anything that can earn them either a few more coins or political mileage as they seek re-election. 

For instance, he noted that some MCAs realising time is running out, they’ll want to get money through intimidation.

Besides, he said, some MCAs will also want to fight governors for political mileage.  This, one easily makes a name by taking on the county supremo.

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