NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 30 – The Senate intends to conduct a probe on the Makueni conflict pitting the Governor and Members of the County Assembly in a bid to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.
The probe to be held between October 14 and 16 will see Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana appear before the committee on the 14th, the County Assembly on 15th and the Controller of Budget, Council of Governors and the public – including any other interested party – on the 16th in efforts to ensure devolution is not threatened.
“It is shocking that a Governor who is a subject of that suspension – if it was to occur – would initiate that suspension because it was not contemplated in the Constitution or the County Government Act. This is a unique situation; It is Makueni today, it could be another county tomorrow. So, it is important to have a meticulous process that will set a good precedent for future engagements when such situations occur,” Kipchumba Murkomen who chairs the Senate Devolution Committee said.
The committee further expressed its disappointment over the manner in which the Council of Governors was handling the Makueni situation following their proposal to have the County Government dissolved.
“What is alarming for us is to hear from our counterparts who are working for the counties, particularly the County Governors announcing that a county should be suspended. As a Senate, we are completely hesitant to think, contemplate or even imagine a suspension of the County Government of Makueni,” Murkomen reiterated.
The Makueni Governor has publicly declared that the differences between himself and Members of the County Assembly are irreconcilable and has commenced the process of initiating the suspension of the County Government.
“It is clear from the activities of the assembly and other elected leaders that no solution can be found in the current conflict,” Kibwana is on record saying.
He went on to state: “I have already printed booklets to collect signatures from voters in the region to start the process of suspending the County Government. The differences between the Executive and the assembly cannot be resolved.”
Busia Senator Amos Wako (who is a member of the Senate Devolution Committee) insisted that the matter could not be declared a foregone conclusion until it was discussed by the affected parties in a sombre manner.
“We on this committee are genuinely going to look into these issues because I believe that there is no issue that cannot be solved by reasonable people sitting round the table, even Makueni,” stated Wako.
His sentiments were reiterated by Senate Majority Whip Beatrice Elachi who said the issues needed to be carefully handled as Makueni was not an isolated case as there was feuding in other counties.
This is not just an issue for Makueni, it is an issue in Isiolo, it’s an issue in Mandera… it has been in Marsabit. If they did not ask to be dissolve then it would be unfortunate for Makueni to be dissolved because the issues in Mandera and Marsabit are more worrying than Makueni where leaders who were elected have decided to disagree,” added Elachi.
Kibwana claims that Members of the County Assembly have refused to pass crucial bills including the Finance Bill, saying the MCAs only do what pleases them.
Elachi however told the Governor to come out and state whether or not he was able to execute his mandate.
In October last year, the Makueni Governor had threatened to resign after he failed to reach a consensus with the County Assembly over allocation of funds.
The Senate committee intimated that it will be seeking to identify the root of the problem, be it politics or personal.
The committee which was supposed to travel to Makueni on Tuesday on a fact-finding mission was forced to suspend its visit after Kibwana asked for more time.
Last week, five people were shot including Kibwana’s Chief of Staff, his bodyguard and County Sergeant at Arms after the Governor and his supporters stormed a meeting convened by the Speaker, Majority Leader, area MP and MCAs.
The meeting was reportedly organised to plot Kibwana’s removal.