Rasanga reshuffles his cabinet as DCI probes loss of Sh600 million

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga during a past event at Kabarak,  Nakuru County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Treasury, arguably Siaya’s County most influential docket, goes down in history as a hotbed of high, yet disgraced turnover.

The incessant changes in the docket since 2013, has brought down the tenures of the officeholders, with clouds of allegations.

In December 2020, Governor Cornel Rasanga re-appointed his first finance executive Cleophas Ombogo to take over from Richard Mungla, who was moved to head the Trade and Enterprise department.

Ombogo failed to make it to the list of those who would serve in Rasanga’s cabinet in his second term after his contract expired in 2017.  Rasanga appointed Joseph Warega after his re-election.

In March 2019, Warega walked out after disagreeing with Rasanga over the use of public funds.

Before his resignation, Warega had faced sacking threats which further pushed him to the edge. Rasanga said that Warega had opted to resign rather than face accountability issues.

He had, on numerous occasions, been summoned by the County’s MCAs over alleged misuse of funds under his docket. He was reportedly fined Sh200, 000 for missing one of the meetings in November 2018.

“I have received the letter from the finance head. He opted to resign rather than confront accountability issues we had raised with his office,” stated Rasanga.

Warega’s first stint was as the County’s Director of Finance, which he joined in 2014.

In January 2018, he, however, had to persevere a grilling that linked him to the infamous 2008 cemetery land scandal, which saw Sh283 million that rocked the government.

At that period, he was the Chief Accountant in the Ministry of Local Government in the office of Deputy Prime Minister.

Cleophas Ombogo during his swearing-in as the CEC for Finance. [File, Standard]

Mungla took over the finance docket from Warega. The fall of Mungla followed the same script of his predecessors, whose tenures came down tumbling under clouds of corruption allegations.

The county officials termed his sacking as “reorganisation of government”. This was the second time the governor was reorganising his cabinet after being elected into office for a second term. His first reshuffle was in July 2019.

Mungla was sent on leave after the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee summoned him alongside former Education executive Mary Olute to explain how more than Sh70 million meant for bursaries was disbursed.

The summons came after the Auditor-General’s report raised concerns about 49 ‘ghost students’ who were awarded bursaries in the 2017/18 financial year.

Two weeks after the governor made changes to his government, Mr Adrian Ouma was appointed the acting Finance executive.

Ouma, who joined Rasanga’s cabinet at the beginning of his second term, was also in charge of the Lands, Housing and Urban Development docket, before a similar fate befell him.

Months after Ouma’s sacking, Rasanga effected new changes in his government on Monday, with Hesbon Mariwa being appointed as the new Chief Officer for Finance and Economic Planning.

Mariwa, the former office-holder was moved to the trade docket in similar changes made in April 2020.

In a letter dated January 3, the county boss, stated that the changes are geared towards improving the system’s efficiency and aimed at consolidating his ten-year development legacy.

According to the latest reshuffling, Jack Odinga, who previously served as the director of the Budget and Economic Planning, now assumes the position of the Director of Finance.

With the new changes announced to take effect immediately, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are probing how officials in the Finance department in Siaya County may have siphoned an estimated Sh600 million, crippling major services at the devolved unit.

The George Kinoti-led unit has put 64 members of staff at the regional government including accountants and junior staff suspected to have acted as a conduit, in the alleged theft, after it emerged that their bank accounts were used to transact the cash that went missing in June 2021.

The loss of the funds is reported to have crippled government activities like paying workers’ salaries.