, NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 6 – Governors have vowed to ignore summons issued by Senate committees to explain audit queries raised in quarterly reports by the Controller of Budget and Auditor-General.
The Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto who is the Bomet Governor dismissed the summons by the Senators as ‘haphazard.’
He accused the Senate of being “disrespectful, emotional and acting like a kangaroo court and duplicating the role County Assembly.”
The stand came barely hours after Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro downplayed the souring relations between the two county heads after a second Governor skipped a meeting with the Senate Sessional Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments.
Ethuro had told journalists that there was no crisis adding that the two county leaders were merely differing in opinion.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a crisis; I think it is a difference. I think they have done the right thing (in moving to the court) if they feel that their interpretation is significantly differently from ours,” the Senate Speaker said.
Ruto on his part said: “As a council, we shall abide by the judgment of the court (in Kerugoya) and cannot therefore continue to respond to summons from the Senate in a haphazard manner.”
Ruto added; “the council maintains that the Executive at the county is accountable to their respective county assemblies in accordance with Article 183 (3) of the Constitution.”
His statement comes even as the Senate Sessional Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments issued summons for him and his Kisumu County counterpart Jack Ranguma to appear to explain audit queries.
The Boni Khalwale-led team also directed that the two be surcharged for costs incurred by county officials whom they had sent to represent them.
Ruto advised the Senate to deal with county executives.
“It is our position that the county executives should be heard. Where the Senate seeks to engage the county governments they must bear in mind that the same matter is before the county assemblies.”
The Bomet Governor added; “So in carrying out its oversight role the Senate must endeavour to improve accountability at the county level and not cripple the county government.”
Ethuro however urged Governors to cooperate with the Senate as it plays its oversight role over the county governments.
“I imagine if the Governors came to the Senate and explained that during the first year of implementing our county government, there have been challenges in recruitment and procurement. I am sure, all of us are human enough to give them the benefit of the doubt but when you run away from that kind of engagement something could be entered against you that you could have explained,” Ethuro said.
The frosty relations between Governors and Senators began last week after the Governors boycotted a Senate retreat in Mombasa in protest to President Uhuru Kenyatta assenting to the County Development Board which empowers Senators to chair the County Development Teams whose mandate is to co-ordinate development programs in Counties.
The Governors moved to court to challenge the legality of the board which they say is part of an onslaught to kill devolution through minimal amendments to the Constitution.
Ruto cited an amendment being handled by the National Assembly which will see the management of Level Five Hospitals revert back to the national government as among the legislations.
“They have passed several laws since last year which are meant to eat back on the devolved structures, because they know the people won’t even recognise the original intentions of the original Constitution,” Ruto stated.