Meru governor Mwangaza declares third mountain race a sham

Mountain run

Runners at the third Mt Kenya Mountain Run on February 26, 2023. Meru governor has hit out at the organising team after only Sh562,000 was raised for an event meant to support cancer treatment

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza has declared the third edition of the Mt Kenya Mountain Run a sham after the organising committee raised a meagre Sh562,000.

The Mt Kenya Mountain Run was launched in 2020 with the intention of raising funds for cancer treatment and environmental conservation.

But during her monthly televised executive briefing on Wednesday night, the governor was shocked to learn that of the Sh13.7 million raised, only a paltry Sh562,000 was available as savings.

During the event held on February 26, Josephat Kiprotich and Valentine Jepkoech won the men's and women's 13 kilometre races respectively, pocketing more than Sh2 million in prize money.

Mr Jediel Muturia, a county official in charge of finances for the race, was at pains to explain to the governor why all the donations were eaten up by expenses.

Costs that the governor poked holes in include Sh626,000 for route preparation, Sh890,000 for the officials' team, Sh819,000 for the officials' accommodation, Sh2.4 million for branding and Sh2.3 million for publicity.

"After all the efforts we made at the dinner, we ended up with nothing? I cannot allow this monkey business to happen under my watch. It is unfortunate that the money we thought would help cancer patients was spent on preparations," said the governor.

Mountain race

She said the county government could not continue to hold the mountain race just for show.

"In future, the Mt Kenya race will take place if it is well planned and there is money for the preparations. We will stop anything that does not add value to the people of Meru," said Ms Mwangaza.

Mr Muturia said he had made efforts to control the use of donations and had managed to cut various costs.

Meanwhile, the governor also read the riot act to Meru County Microfinance officials for gobbling up Sh80 million in salaries and operations annually just to collect Sh6 million in loan interest.

"Since the microfinance was established, it has received Sh560 million for operations. But they can only collect Sh6 million every year. This is a bad business because you cannot spend three shillings to collect one shilling. I am instructing the treasury to stop all further disbursements to the microfinance," said Ms Mwangaza.

She said a recent audit report on the operations of the microfinance would be presented to the district assembly to determine the fate of the autonomous institution.

Ms Mwangaza has maintained that her government will adhere to various austerity measures to free up more funds for development amid a ballooning wage bill.