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Fred Matiangi, James Ongwae clash over passage of Kisii county's Sh12 billion budget

By Eric Abuga - Jun 26th 2022
ODM leader Raila Odinga with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and Kisii Governor James Ongwae (right) at Mwongori Secondary School in Nyamira County on October 22, 2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Calls by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi for investigations into the passage of Sh12 billion Kisii county budget has attracted criticism from Governor James Ongwae and a section of local leaders.

On Friday ODM Kisii governor candidate Simba Arati called for investigations into the passage of 2022/23 Financial year estimates alleging that the Kisii county assembly MCAs did not follow the right procedure while debating the estimates.

Matiangi said: “We will investigate the matter; our work is not to escort thieves. He directed the County Commissioner and the police commander to investigate the matter. The work of the police is not to protect rogues, our work is to arrest them and have them prosecuted.”

“The President has directed me to work within the law and you people know me; we will deal with them,” he added.

The ODM governor candidate claimed that the assembly had also approved the name of Kisii Public Service Board chair. He queried the allocation of funds to construct two markets at Magena in Bomachoge Borabu and Marani Kitutu Chache North at a cost of Sh 100 million each.

Mr Arati said: “We cannot allow some leaders to sit in a room and plan to commit an economic crime. I ask you Dr Matiangi to order for investigations into the matter.”

Dr Matiangi and Mr Arati made the remarks during an event at Nyaura Primary School in Nyaribari Chache on Friday.

On Saturday, Governor Ongwae, Woman Rep Janet Ongera and Kitutu Chache MP Jimmy Angwenyi held a media briefing with Ekegusii local stations and castigated Dr Matiangi and Mr Arati for allegedly overstepping their mandate and working on hearsay.

“On several occasions Arati has been abusing me on various media channels. I have taken enough because I have never responded to him. For 10 years I have never exchanged insults,” said Mr Ongwae

Mr Ongwae noted that the 2022/23 financial estimates set aside funds to be used in the next financial year when he will be out of office.

“We advertised for the position of Chair Public Service Board, interviews were done and the right candidate was picked. I later approved the name. I approached the World Bank and we fought to have the institution fund the two markets. This is what Arati is ignorantly against,” he said.

“This are the kind of leaders who should not be allowed anywhere near our county leadership. We have other formidable leaders within our Azimio alliance who should take over the mantle of county leadership once I retire in the next one month,” he added.

The governor explained that without passing the budget, civil servants could not have received their salaries beginning July and development projects would have stalled.

“Some other senior leaders were present while Arati made the remarks and did not even caution him, they instead joined the baby in playing in mud. I too have a vote and I will also make a decision. I have done my part as a governor for 10 years and I will not allow some people to continue insulting me,” he said.

Ms Ongera called on Dr Matiangi and Mr Arati to take time and comprehend assembly Standing Orders. “The CS should understand the doctrine of separation of powers, we should stop abusing other leaders. Ongwae has done his part and all we should strive to have is a governor who will diligently work for our people,” she said.

The Woman Rep warned that said the fight within Azimio will work in favour of their opponents. “We need to have peaceful elections, let us not fight one another. After the General Election we will still remain as one united community. The CS should not play ball into Kisii politics, his remarks that MCAs be arrested is unfortunate,” she said.

Mr Angwenyi said remarks made by Mr Arati were unfortunate. “MCAs have freedom to make decisions to the benefit of residents. This is someone who seems not to understand how the Assembly operates,” he said.

Kisii Assembly leadership led by Majority Leader Timothy Ogugu and the Minority leader James Ondari dared the CS to instigate any arrest order of the MCAs.

“We followed every step in the budget making process. Leaders should stop playing games. This is not about us but doing what matters most for our people. This is a budget that will be implemented by the next government and not us,” he said.

Mr Arati said: “We cannot allow some leaders to sit in a room and plan to commit an economic crime. I ask you Dr Matiangi to order for investigations into the matter.”

Matiangi said: “We will investigate the matter; our work is not to escort thieves. He directed the County Commissioner and the police commander to investigate the matter. The work of the police is not to protect rogues, our work is to arrest them and have them prosecuted.”

“The President has directed me to work within the law and you people know me; we will deal with them,” he added.

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