Senators flex muscles, slap Governor Mvurya with Sh200, 000 fine for snubbing house team

Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya (L) and his County Executive Committee Member Bakari Sebe when they appeared before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee on audit queries at Parliament on July 16, 2018. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]
A Senate watchdog committee has slapped Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya with a fine for failing to honour its summons in May.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee yesterday, in an unprecedented move, ordered the governor to pay a fine of Sh200,000 for failing to heed an invite to respond to questions raised by Auditor General on expenditure during the 2014/2015 Financial Year.

Speaking while issuing the ruling, the committee Vice Chairperson Senator Mithika Linturi (Meru) noted that Mr Mvurya did not issue the House team with a satisfactory reason as to why he was unable to honour the summons last May 9.

“By powers conferred to us by Section 19 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017, I find that you are liable to pay a fine to the clerk of the Senate of an amount of Sh200, 000 for failing to heed to invitations,” Mr Linturi told Mvurya.

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The same fate is likely to befall 13 governors who have been summoned by the committee for non-appearance.

They are Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Martin Wambora (Embu).

Others are Mike Mbuvi Sonko (Nairobi), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Abdi Mahamud (Wajir), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit) and Ali Korane (Garissa).

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Mr Mbuvi will appear before the committee tomorrow. The committee is chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’.

Mr Mvurya, in mitigation, absolved himself from wrongdoing, revealing that he duly wrote to the committee on May 4 explaining why he could not honour the invite and requested that he be given another date.

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And the Council of Governors yesterday cried foul over the Sh200,000 fine imposed on Mvurya, terming it ‘an act of bad faith.’

CoG chairman Josphat Nanok said the Senate had gone against a court decision, arguing that Parliament was also abusing the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017 by fining a witness who already honoured the summons.

“The fine imposed on Governor of Kwale is in bad faith and amounts to impunity. The judgement mentioned above is very clear on steps to be followed in matters related to summons. The Senate committee has not followed it. We urge the Senate speaker to settle the matter conclusively to avoid any legal pitfalls,” Nanok said.

The CoG boss was referring to a decision by Justice George Odunga in a constitutional case filed by Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya in 2015.

In his decision, Justice Odunga said Parliament (Senate) had powers to summon county chiefs, but such powers should not be misused or abused.

The governors further argued that Justice Odunga opined that matters being considered at the County Assembly level could not be canvassed at the Senate at the same time.

“Despite constant reminders to the Senate on the above mentioned judgement, the same has been ignored and the Senate continues to issue summons to governors in absolute non-compliance. Senate should comply with the judgment of the court,” Nanok said in a statement.

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Kwale Governor Salim MvuryaPublic Accounts and Investment Committeehefty finesauditor general2014/2015 Financial Yearsalim mvurya