A botched bonding retreat to Mombasa between Kitui MCAs and the executive has brought to the fore bottled bitter rivalry between the two arms of the county government.
A week ago, Governor Charity Ngilu was censured by the assembly for what members described as disrespectful conduct that had exposed members to ridicule while portraying them as greedy.
The ward representatives spent the whole evening of Thursday last week debating the aborted consultative meeting that had been called by the governor.
The two arms were to hold a three-day retreat in Mombasa, but it was cancelled at the last hour and rescheduled for Mwingi town, way after at least 35 MCAs had travelled to the coastal town.
At the end of the heated debate, which saw some Narc party members kicked out of the chamber, the angry MCAs directed Speaker George Ndoto to seek a written apology from the governor to the members.
It was also during the debate that a section of the members told the House that the governor was engaged in inequitable distribution of resources, saying some regions were being marginalised.
As such, the ward reps proposed an urgent formation of Ward Equalisation Fund that will draw 30 per cent of the annual development budget to “ensure equalisation of development across the wards.”
Since the censure debate, governor Ngilu has remained silent, seemingly ignoring the MCAs and their complaints.
The closest Kitui residents came to picking her mind on the matter was on Wednesday when she took to a WhatsApp group to condemn people she called croaking frogs.
“Let the doubting Thomases continue yapping. A frog’s eyes and noise cannot deter cows from drinking water.
Kitui will never be business as usual; we are making a paradigm shift from what people believe is development of brick and mortar to people skills development,” the governor posted.
A section of her party members have, however, said that the assembly’s resolution to coerce the governor to tender a written apology to the House was highly ambitious.
Alex Nganga, the House deputy leader of the minority, insisted that the governor had nothing to apologise for.
“The governor does not owe MCAs an apology. What is needed is a consultative meeting to restore confidence and assure the people of Kitui all is well.
We have said the soonest the Speaker consults with the governor on the possibility of holding such a consultative meeting to discuss development matters, the better,” Nganga, the Miambani Ward Rep said.
He dismissed as whining claims by a group of his colleagues that the governor was deliberately marginalising some regions of the county.
“Every MCA has a chance to participate in budget-making and input development interests of their electorate. Those who fail to participate in such forums should stop whining; if there is no development in your ward, you are squarely to blame,” he said.
The deputy minority leader, however, noted that some of the governor’s advisers were misleading her and advised Ngilu to engage the MCAs directly.
He heaped blame over the botched Mombasa retreat to the county secretary.
“The governor should stop relying on her handlers and talk directly to fellow elected leaders. The House has no fight with the governor as is being portrayed by some of her advisers,” said Nganga.
On his part, Leader of Majority Peter Kilonzo (Athi) feels that Ngilu is out to incite the electorate against MCAs in a bid to camouflage what he calls “her irredeemable failures.”
“Clearly, madam Ngilu has no capacity to run this county. I have been studying her over time and I can say with certainty she will not take us anywhere,” Mr Kilonzo told Saturday Standard.
He said that the governor’s undoing was to close her eyes and ears and assume all was well yet she was running a divided county.
Kilonzo lamented that the governor was belittling MCAs, especially in public forums where only “connected goons” are given time to address gatherings while snubbing ward reps.
Lost sight and sense
“It is unfortunate that the governor has lost her sight and sense of hearing within one year of service.
She cannot successfully implement her policy in a divided environment and needs to bring all the people together,” he said.
The Athi Ward Rep also took issue with the way the governor was implementing some of her projects without involving the assembly, adding that she was squandering public resources by ferrying people to events and even hiring choppers to tour the county.
Local political pundits opine that there is need for Ngilu to have a seamless working relationship with the assembly as it happens in the neighbouring Makueni County, where governor Kivutha Kibwana visits the assembly regularly to interact and consult with MCAs.