Senate to visit three counties to reconcile governors, MCAs

Senators at Naivasha

A section of senators during a past retreat in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Senators are set to tour more than three counties in the country to mediate between warring governors and members of county assemblies (MCAs), which they say threatens devolution.

The chairperson of the Senate Devolution Committee, Mr Sheikh Mohammed Abbas, made the revelations at the Enashipai hotel in Naivasha, where senators are meeting with the Council of Governors, County Assemblies Forum (CAF) and the PS in charge of devolution.

The committee will start its visits with Kiambu, Kericho and Migori counties.

“We are planning to visit more than three counties to help end wrangles between governors and MCAs. The committee is playing its mandatory role by paying visits to the affected counties in a bid to resolve the conflicts,” stated Mr Abbas.

“Yes, we have taken up that role to arbitrate them. We will sit down with the governors, MCAs and other leaders in the counties to try and bring peace to the regions,” added Mr Abbas.

In Kiambu, a standoff between Governor Kimani Wamatangi and MCAs in the past weeks threatened to derail development activities in the county.

Last month the row escalated after they staged a demonstration at the county headquarters.

The MCAs had questioned Mr Wamatangi’s style of leadership, accusing him of undermining them by using his foundation and cronies to reach the grassroots. 

They also claimed that bursary committees were being formed at ward level without their knowledge or involvement and accused the governor of usurping their roles.

Although they reached a truce, the Senate committee wants to visit the county to formally reconcile Mr Wamatangi and the MCAs.

Similar wrangles have been witnessed in Kericho and Migori in the past weeks.

The Senate committee says it has taken up the arbitration role in a bid to improve relationships of MCAs and governors.

Mr Abbas cited the case of Meru, saying the committee had paid a visit to the troubled county in a bid to resolve the stalemate between the MCAs and Governor Kawira Mwangaza, after a failed impeachment of the county chief.

The county boss and the ward reps have been wrangling for months, culminating in the governor’s ouster by the MCAs.

The impeachment was overturned by senators who rejected all the 62 grounds presented by the ward reps to support the ouster bid.

A senate committee chaired by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale stated that the MCAs had not substantiated or proved the allegations levelled against the governor.

In 2020, the committee reconciled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and MCAs following the county boss's failed impeachment. The parties had had a bitter falling-out.

The committee also expressed concerns over the huge amount of pending bills in counties.

Mr Abbas said the pending bills were running into billions of shillings, terming it a cause for concern.

He revealed that a number of people were counting losses, having not been paid for services rendered for the past five years.

He told participants that the committee members will be holding consultative meetings with governors over the matter.

“We have people who invested their money but cannot get it back … for example in Nairobi we have pending bills in excess of Sh100 billion and Wajir more than Sh5.5 billion,” pointed out Mr Abbas.

He admitted that the Devolution committee had not done enough to audit what has been achieved since the establishment of the devolved units more than a decade ago.

“We also want to follow up on some of the functions that are yet to be fully developed like health, water among others,” he pointed out.

He acknowledged that the counties were facing myriad challenges, including late disbursement of funds, noting that the 15 per cent provided by the national government was “hardly enough".  

Speaking on the sidelines of the Naivasha retreat, the committee’s vice chairperson, Ms Catherine Mumma, said senators will be visiting the four cities in the country, to ascertain their adherence to the requirements and provisions of the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

She, too, expressed concern over pending bills, but was quick to add that they were yet to quantify the amount owed to suppliers.