Key projects at stake as Kitui County leaders wrangles grow

Kitui governor Charity Ngilu interacts with children after a service at St Christopher’s Catholic Church in Kyumbi, Machakos County, on Sunday. [John Muia, Standard]
The county assembly and the executive have not been seeing eye to eye lately as MCAs and the governor fight over funds. 

MCAs are accusing governor Charity Ngilu of misappropriating public funds and misplaced priorities.

On the other hand, Ngilu is accusing the ward reps of malice and being out to derail her development agenda.

The war between Ngilu and MCAs reached the boiling point on Thursday when the ward reps shot down a supplementary budget the executive had presented for approval.

SEE ALSO :Kitui assembly alarmed by stalled county projects

Bad name

Ngilu accused the MCAs, especially those allied to Wiper Party, of denying her funds to finance development projects to give her a bad name before the people.

However, majority of MCAs said the supplementary budget went against the Public Finance Management Act and needed to be reworked.

“I can tell you for sure, MCAs have no problem with the governor. All we are saying is this budget is defective. That is why we returned to the executive so it can be fixed. Once that is done, we will pass it as we have always done. Actually, we want the governor to succeed for the benefit of our people,” said Kisasi MCA Kasee Musya.

Ngilu has threatened to roll out a campaign to incite residents against the MCAs ahead of 2022 elections.

SEE ALSO :Reprieve for Ngilu as Wiper party ward reps back down

Ngilu, who spoke when she presided over Jamhuri Day celebrations in Mwingi West, said she is ready for war.

She said the campaign she is planning to start will unseat all the MCAs during the next elections.

“They are trying to deny me money to work for you but their day is coming. I will go to the villages and explain my predicament to the people. They should recall what happened in Makueni where all the MCAs who were giving the governor a hard time were sent packing,” Ngilu said.

Political career

She called on Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka to tame his MCAs, saying their behaviour may injure his political career and chances of becoming president.

Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana’s first two years in office were characterised by turmoil as the executive and the county assembly clashed over funds.

Among other things, the MCAs were demanding funds to finance projects in their wards and allowances for meetings that were termed unnecessary. 

But Kibwana stood his ground and vowed not to give MCAs the funds they were demanding. And for two years, the county was at a standstill and even faced dissolution, which Kibwana said would be a better option rather than watch public funds go to waste. 

Later, Kibwana launched a campaign to incite residents against MCAs ahead of the last General Election, which paid off as 29 of the 30 MCAs failed to recapture their seats. Residents said they saw Kibwana as their defender, not enemy.

Ngilu is hoping to play the same card in Kitui but her plan is already running into a storm as some residents say the MCAs are right in questioning her spending.

“In Makueni, Kibwana was protecting public funds from being squandered by the members of the county assembly. In Kitui is it the opposite; the MCAs are the ones protecting public funds from being squandered by the county government. So if there is anybody to be send home in 2011, then that should be Ngilu,” said Mr James Musili, an official of the local branch of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

And Wiper MCAs have told Ngilu to carry her cross and not drag the name of their party leader into the matter. 

“We have, in the past, passed budgets for her. We have approved her executive members and she did not say that was with Kalonzo’s instructions. How come she wants to blame Kalonzo when we are simply exposing corruption and theft in county government?” said county assembly leader of majority Peter Kilonzo.

Right thing

Kilonzo said the House will only work with Ngilu if she follows the law. “She should stop bring Kalonzo into this matter. We are ready to work with her but she do the right thing,” he said.

Mrs Ngilu also claims the MCAs are frustrating her because she does not belong to Wiper.

However, the MCAs have laughed off the claim as defeatist. “The governor should not hide behind party politics. She will not be allowed to coerce this assembly to do wrong things just to please her. We cannot be her rubber-stamp,” said nominated Wiper MCA Waziri Bakari.

Mr James Munuve, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, said Ngilu does not need a supplementary budget. 

Main budget

“The county assembly has already passed three supplementary budgets in addition to the main budget. She should tell us what she did with the previous budget,” said Munuve  who is also Kanziko MCA.

He alleged the county government is involved in high level corruption. He also said the governor was allocating massive funds to non-priority areas, sometimes without following the law.

Area senator Enoch Wambua condemned Ngilu’s threat to campaign against MCAs ahead of the next elections terming it an affront to democracy.

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Charity NgiluNgilu and MCAsKitui County