Since Kiambu County came to being in 2013, navigating its intricate politics to satisfy its nearly three million residents and 1.3 million voters has not been a walk in the park.
With Governor Kimani Wamatangi facing resistance from the county assembly, will he suffer the same fate as his predecessors?
Q: What exactly is wrong with Kiambu politics?
The trouble being smelt is emanating from a group of ruthless tenderpreneurs and politicians attempting to take my government hostage through blackmail and coercion. These people have taken most of our public utility lands and they still want more. They can keep on trying but my resolve to dismantle them so that the people of Kiambu can finally reap what they deserve in transformative service delivery will remain unshaken. I appreciate the odds, but I will prevail. Kiambu has wasted 10 years of devolution and I want to remedy that.
Q: Some politicians have accused you of running a one-man show in Kiambu...
I get along well with most of the county’s leaders who routinely visit my office with requests and proposals on behalf of the people. Those leaders committed to the cause of serving our people without self-interest will tell you that we consult a lot and conduct united-front evaluations. I work with leaders whose mission statement is clearly declared as that of seeking to transform our people’s lives.
Q: There are signs that you might be impeached...
(Laughs) What impeachment? That is the tune of a select few who want to create disruption and believe that by so doing, we will recant our stance on protecting public resources. I detest all forms of conflict and won’t use insults against my opponents even when things heat up. Sobriety and maturity will reign. We are around. We are going nowhere.
Q: All your predecessors failed to unite the county and you appear to be suffering the same fate. Why must there always be fights in Kiambu?
I am a true believer of public participation, consultation and consensus building. I have made it crystal clear that I am open to cooperation only with all those with people’s interests at heart. What I will not be conceding to is working with those who view elective posts as avenues for personal gain, especially by stealing public resources. .. Kiambu is only fighting corruption; we are not fighting as people. We should also give democracy its space where divergent views are welcome. We also appreciate opposition oversight role in what we are doing.
Q: How have the rifts affected service delivery?
Nothing has been affected. Everything is proceeding smoothly. We are working on our projects because the assembly passed our budget, we are saving our funds, in fact, in the last financial year, I collected Sh3.6 billion local revenue, the highest ever in Kiambu, and this year, I have set a target of Sh8 billion. We are firing from all cylinders.
Q: If you survive these traps will you defend your seat?
For the time being, I am keeping myself occupied in serving the people of Kiambu, not engaging in politics. I will let my service delivery portfolio throughout my first term define tenability of my second term candidacy.
Q: What is the current status of Kiambu County’s economy?
Kiambu as a region used to be wealthy and was even lending the national economy. We reached an all-time low when I was coming in where we were courting insolvency. If Kiambu County was a business entity, it would have been auctioned due to bad debts and financial instability.
When devolution started, we were getting Sh5 billion from Treasury, today, we are getting Sh13.5 billion. How was that money spent, though? When I took over, Kiambu owed Sh7 billion in pending bills. Workers had gone for months without salaries. Since I took office, I have been paying the bills, and so far, I have cleared over Sh2 billion of the debts and we don’t have salary arrears.
Q: Do you have a debt mitigation strategy?
Yes. To keep ourselves from sinking further into debts that had destroyed investor confidence, I have made it a priority to be paying contractors and suppliers upon delivery and verification of tender conditions. We crossed to the 2023-2024 financial year without a pending bill for works done in the 2022-2023 financial year. That is the clean sheet position I seek to keep. Additionally, I have closed corruption loopholes and through prudent management have saved Sh4 billion, which we are using to undertake development and enhance services. Here, we are running business on cash basis, no more debts
Q: Highlight your service delivery priorities.
The health sector tops. Two-thirds of our medical supplies were being stolen. I have since modified how the supply is managed. We have put 560,000 people under county universal healthcare. I have also restarted stalled health projects.
I have tripled the bursary amount to Sh300 million, and we will raise it to Sh500 million for the next academic year. We have awarded contracts for the building of 180 new ECDE centres. I have also started a feeding programme for ECDE learners, giving them a bowl of uji daily and three boiled eggs weekly, and we are adding a packet of milk once a week.
We have procured excavators, graders, trucks, water bowsers and compactors for use in roads upgrade programmes in all wards. I have refurbished and opened more than 700 rural access roads.