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Bursary kitty could spark fresh row between Mwangaza, MCAs

Meru County Governor Kawira Mwangaza. [George Kaimenyi, Standard]

Meru MCAs have proposed to increase the ward bursary fund in what might open a new battlefront between the Assembly and Governor Kawira Mwangaza.

The MCAs have proposed to increase the kitty from the current Sh3 million to Sh5 million per ward. 

In what could cause friction between the Executive and Assembly, the MCAs unanimously passed a motion to have more funds allocated to bursaries for needy students across the 45 wards.

Thangatha Ward MCA Elijah Kimathi tabled the motion seeking to have the Department of Education, Technology, Gender, and Social Development and Finance Department have the bursary kitty enhanced.

Mr Kimathi while seeking the kitty to be upgraded from the current Sh3m to Sh5 million for every ward said there was a need for equity in the distribution of the funds.

He argued that a legal framework was needed to promote access to education across the county, as some wards had not been receiving a fair share of the funds for their needy students. 

Kimathi said the bursaries should be issued based on the population numbers in each electoral area.

“I call upon the Education and Finance departments to implement this motion so that we can help the people of Meru,” Kimathi said. 

Ali Mwenda (Deputy Speaker) said they had been made aware that raising the bursary to Sh5 million might prove tricky.

“Unless we cut some spending from the office of the governor,” Mwenda said, even as he also supported the proposal to raise the amount to upwards of Sh10m.

Award of bursaries had in the past caused friction between MCAs and former governors Kiraitu Murungi and Peter Munya, with an increasing number of students in Meru lamenting delayed disbursements and amounts.

It is a topic that Governor Kawira waded into the last time the MCAs refused her a chance to address the Assembly during the aborted inaugural address.

“I had planned to address the issues raised of ward fund and bursaries in the Assembly but the MCAs walked out on me,” Ms Kawira had said recently. 

But contributing in the Assembly during a debate on bursary kitty, Nkuene MCA Martin Koome said some wards had a bigger population compared to others and hence needed an equitable share of the bursaries.

Koome urged the executive to do a count of needy students in each ward to ensure they got a commensurate share of bursaries.

“I support the allocations are done according to the number of (needy) students,” he said.

The MCA argued that if the trend of allocating equal amounts to each ward is used, some wards will lose out.

Koome said the fact that some counties had managed to sponsor students to study abroad was a testament that the devolved units had money to fund education.