NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – The inquiry into a petition by residents of Makueni calling for the dissolution of the county government has started, with residents maintaining only dissolution can end their woes.
Francis Mailu Mulandi was the first petitioner among eight to present his statement to the Mohammed Nyaoga-led commission where he defended their decision, saying the conflict between Governor Kivutha Kibwana and the County Assembly had stifled activities at the county.
“We saw that the conflict between the Governor and County Assembly was escalating, and the best we could do was ask the President was to suspend the entire Makueni County Government even if it was only for one month. It is better to have one month of joy than five years of misery,” stated Mulandi.
He said they had compared Makueni to other counties and noted the disparities with regard to growth and development accusing the County Assembly of delaying passage of bills which would facilitate the provision of services.
“We saw other counties developing, buying ambulances, while in Makueni people were dying because there were no means of reaching the hospital for treatment, we had issues with access to medicine, youth were idle and there were no roads,” he added.
Mulandi says the tension started soon after the election of the Speaker Stephen Ngelu who during the campaigns supported a candidate running against Governor Kivutha Kibwana.
He stated the conflict escalated when it came to budgeting for funds allocated to the county with the County Assembly rejecting the proposals by the National Government as the allocations set aside for them were ‘meagre’.
But what was perhaps the most interesting statement by the petitioner was when he said the Executive had claimed that the County Assembly had be-witched them.
“They said one of the witchdoctors known as ‘Mulika’ meaning to light had been sought to ‘cleanse’ the County Assembly halls. The County Assembly reportedly fearing for the consequences moved to another location to hold their sittings. Religious leaders were later sought to ‘cleanse’ the area,” he explained.
He was however stopped from discussing the shooting incident that occurred during a meeting held September last year to discuss the possible impeachment of Governor Kibwana.
But before that, he sensationally claimed that the Speakers’ bodyguard shot at the crowd to disperse them as they attempted to force their way into the chamber where the meeting was held.
“The Majority Leader in Kamba dialect said that man (referring to Kibwana) has been giving us a lot of trouble and since he is here let us finish him,” he narrated.
“Just give us the grounds for the petition, we are going to go into the evidence in the affidavit, at that point we will deal with the arising issues later,” directed Nyaoga.
The petitioners say the County Government failed to defend them when the Chinese company constructing the Standard Gauge Railway scooped sand, which is abundant in the area and sold by many, without paying them a dime.
“We wanted the County Assembly to come with laws to help the disabled, women and youth but our proposals were ignored, despite them holding a public forum to get our opinion,” he continued.
He said it was these reasons among others that motivated them to push for the suspension.
“Since the Governor and Speaker don’t see eye to eye, how will they work together to ensure the 2015/16 county budget is ready on time?” he quipped.
Attorney General Githu Muigai who was present as ‘amicus curiae’ expressed confidence in the commission saying it would set the standards of resolving disputes within the county governments.
“We know the commission will help to resolve the issues and restore Public confidence in the county governments,” he said.
Nyaoga stated that the commission would conduct the hearings expeditiously adding that they intended to deliver on their mandate in the shortest time possible.
“We are going to garner as much public participation as possible. It is going to be a very ruthless program so brace yourselves. We know commissions like to take their time to keep the job and earn more allowances, this is not one of those, we want to deliver on our mandate,” said Nyaoga.
The petition gives 46 grounds for dissolution among them that the County Government is no longer functional and is not discharging its mandate as per the Constitution.