The die seems to be cast for the Makueni County Government after the commission of inquiry appointed to look into a petition to suspend the county recommended for dissolution.
Led by Lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga, the six- member commission in its report that was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday at State house in Mombasa found justifiable reasons to suspend the county following the persistent wrangling between Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
Nyaoga in a press interview said the residents of Makueni raised serious complains backed with evidence on the County Government’s dismal performance in development, occasioned by the infighting.
“They were exceptional circumstances to warrant the decision. The assembly took the view that they were neither part of the County Government nor accountable to anyone which is a very peculiar scenario,” said Nyaoga.
He defended the commission’s verdict and allayed fears that the decision could open floodgates for other counties to seek dissolution.
“The decision is not drastic because the process is contemplated in the constitution. We did not open a pandoras box and if it was, the constitution opened it,” said the chair of the commission.
The county could be headed for snap elections if the Senate votes in favor of the report that the President will forward to the upper house within seven days.
On his part, Governor Kivutha has welcomed the verdict of the commission and said that his government will wait for the president and Senate’s decision on the same.
He commended the commission for what he termed as a job well done and expressed his confidence that whatever the outcome the County Government will continue to carry out its mandate.
“When the commission toured Makueni the residents told them they would want the county dissolved due to the wrangling caused by poor leadership and they have upheld that,” he said.
Majority Leader Francis Mutuku however opposed the verdict and disclosed that they would lobby the president and the Senate to have the report shelved.
Mutuku however said that he was not afraid of dissolution and exuded confidence that he would recapture his seat if fresh elections are held.
“I don’t support the decision and as a County Assembly we shall be sending a delegation to the President and Senate,” he said.
Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua in a TV interview supported the decision saying that the verdict was based on what the commission found on the ground.
Governor Mutua noted precious time that could have been used to spur development was lost due to the wrangling but added that with the commission’s verdict the fate of Makueni lies in the hands of the residents.
He blamed the wrangling on outside forces beyond Ukambani noting that there has been a deliberate effort by certain forces to scuttle development in the Lower Eastern counties.
“There has been interference in the three Ukambani counties,” said Governor Mutua.
Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo however said dissolution would be a costly affair and called for reconciliation of the warring parties.
He said that with barely two years to the general elections, dissolving the county would be a waste of time.
“A lot of time has been lost in the wrangling and the 90 day period of suspension should be used for reconciliation,” said the legislator.
The report by the commission is a culmination of a two -year wrangling between the two arms of the government that took a violent turn in September 2014 in which six people were shot after Kivutha and his supporters stormed a meeting at the County Assembly chambers.
The shooting was perhaps an escalation of the wrangling of the two arms of the government that had been embroiled in persistent wrangles mainly centered on allocation of funds.
The infighting drove residents to petition the president for the suspension of the county due to the irreconcilable differences between Kivutha and the MCAs.
Upon receiving the petition, the president appointed a six-member commission led by Lawyer Nyaoga that conducted hearings both in Nairobi and across the county to determine the veracity of the petition.
During the public hearings, the executive and the legislative arms made accusations and counter accusations. The governor accused the MCAs of being greedy and selfish while they in turn accused him of incompetence besides running a corrupt government and impeached him.
Interestingly, the ouster of the Governor by the MCAs on grounds of incompetence and gross violation of the law among other accusations never saw the light of the day after he moved to court to challenge the impeachment.
For now, the fate of the county government lies in the hands of the President and the Senate and it is just a matter of time before the details of what the Commission unearthed would be revealed.