Budget impasse deepens as Governor Samboja and his MCAs dig in

Taita-Taveta County Assembly Speaker Meshack Maganga (Left) and Majority Leader Jason Tuja addressing the press outside the Assembly Chambers yesterday. [Renson Nyamwezi/Standard]

Governor Granton Samboja’s decision to petition President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve his county has received mixed reactions.

The petition followed a standoff between the governor and ward reps who have refused to pass his 2019-2020.

Samboja had declined to sign the budget passed by the ward reps and returned it to the county Assembly with a memorandum outlining several amendments. 

He argued that he would not allow ward reps to allocate development funds amounting to Sh832 million.

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He argued that the creation of a development fund controlled by ward reps violated the Constitution’s principle of separation of powers.

Digging in

Yesterday, ward reps dug in and rejected the governor’s memorandum, escalating the standoff.

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The governor has already started collecting signatures to petition the President to disband the county.

But former Governor John Mruttu said there was no justification to dissolve it.

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“Dissolving a county requires presidential approval. What reasons shall we give to warrant the dissolution? Budgetary impasse is not sufficient in my opinion,” said Mr Mruttu who lost to Samboja in 2017 general election.

Defiant ward reps dared the governor to push through with the petition.

“The governor can mobilise citizens to collect signatures for any reason or for any course. It is his constitutional right to do so,” said county Assembly Speaker Meshack Maganga.

His deputy, Chrispus Tondoo, said ward reps were ready to meet the governor on the campaign trail should his petition succeed.

“The governor has dug his own political grave and we will show him how politics is played,” said Mr Tondoo.

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Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime supported the petition, saying the standoff between the two arms of government was enough justification to dissolve the county.

More support for the petition came from a youth leader, Hezron Mwashighadi, who said it should be supported by all.

However, Mbololo Ward rep, Godfrey Mwambi, said the governor had no valid reasons to call for the dissolution of the county. He said ward reps have not violated the law on budget making process.

“When the executive brings the budget estimates to the county assembly, the members of the county assembly can pass it with or without amendments,” said Mr Mwambi.

“In our case we passed the budget estimates with amendments by considering the projects and programmes, which were proposed by the public during the public participation which were never considered by the executive,” he said.

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He said the budget passed by the ward reps had given his ward Sh10 million for piped water.

Sinister motive

Leader of the Minority in the Assembly, Ronald Sagurani, read a sinister motive in the governor’s petition. 

“I see no justification whatsoever to dissolve the county government, unless he has a hidden agenda,” said the Mahoo ward rep.

“The issues the governor has raised can be resolved through dialogue and consultation with the county Assembly. The governor has never come to the House for consultation since his inauguration in 2017,” he said.

The Anglican Church of Kenya offered to mediate the controversy.

“This is not a big crisis like some being experienced in other counties. Counties that are squabbling are still standing today,” said Bishop Liverson Mng’onda of Taita-Taveta Diocese.

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Governor Granton SambojaPresident Uhuru KenyattaMCAs