Senate orders probe into Joho threat to dissolve assembly

The Senate has launched an investigation into the dispute between the governor and ward representatives.

The war of words saw Governor Hassan Joho issue a threat about ten days ago that he would mobilise residents to collect signatures to impeach members of the county assembly.

Senators, however, warned Joho that any attempt to dissolve the county assembly due to bad blood between his Cabinet members and the MCAs would be an exercise in futility.

Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki’s personal statement on the matter sparked much interest when he sought the Senate’s intervention to avert a fallout like happened in Makueni County in 2014.

“I urge the Senate to come out and protect the Mombasa county assembly. This will avoid a situation where the assembly will be paralysed, giving the Executive a free hand to operate in the county,” Mr Faki told the House.

The senator said three executives had snubbed summons from ward representatives to meet their respective committees.

“They didn’t honour the invitation. Instead they issued threats to dissolve the county assembly and claimed that the MCAs had failed to perform their mandate,” said the senator.

Faki said on Tuesday morning, residents were invited to sign the petition calling for the assembly’s dissolution.

Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki said leaders fighting devolution did not stop to assess actual threats to the welfare of the counties.

Without mincing words, he singled out governors and their executives as some of the greatest threats to devolution.

“By trying to subvert the supremacy of county assemblies, which are organs directly elected by the people, you are emasculating devolution and defeating the purposes for which it has been placed as the center piece of the Constitution,” Prof Kindiki said.

Kindiki directed the Devolution Committee chaired by Laikipia Senator John Kinyua to investigate the matter and table a detailed report before the House in the next two weeks.

“This matter is an exceptional case. It touches on widespread threats to the independence of county assemblies and should be addressed as a way to warn executives not to interfere with assemblies and get away with it,” said Kindiki.

Other senators who supported the probe included Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Samson Cheragei (Nandi), Abshiro Halakhe (Nominated), James Orengo (Siaya), Moses Wetang'ula (Bungoma), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet).

“When it comes to oversight, MCAs across the country are being intimidated and mistreated. The committee should read the riot act to the governor of Mombasa,” said Mr Mutula.

He continued: “Joho must be told he can be the sultan of Mombasa but he is not the sultan of the assembly. He cannot dissolve the assembly whether in his dreams or through wishful thinking."

Mr Murkomen said it was important for county leaders to be educated on the importance of having county assemblies as an arm of Government.

Mr Orengo warned that leaders should not think it was possible to dissolve a county assembly.

“But it is right to impeach a governor and, by extension, remove a CEC. You cannot by any legal mechanism dissolve a county assembly other than through the process of suspension and dissolution of the entire county government,” he said.

Mr Wetangula said the Executive in any county was accountable to the assembly in terms of primary oversight, budgeting and approval of budgets.

“If indeed the Mombasa county government is intimidating the MCAs, the Executive is engaging in a futile exercise,” he said.