Azimio leaders fear devolution could collapse

ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya (left) with forme Defense Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.[Benjaminin Sakwa,Standard]

A section of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party leaders have accused the government of frustrating devolution.

They claimed that devolution was under threat and castigated the Kenya Kwanza government for introducing high taxes.

Addressing mourners at the burial of Kisa East MCA Stephen Maloba at Munjiti village in Khwisero, Kakamega County on Saturday 6, the leaders including Siaya senator James Orengo and his host Fernandes Barasa said devolution was under threat because the national government is delaying the release of equitable sharable revenue to counties.

 Mr Barasa who is the Council of Governors Finance and Planning Committee chairman said that they could be forced to shut down services in counties if the funds will not have been disbursed by May 15th.

 “The National Treasury has released the schedule that will be used to release the money to counties starting with the month of March and this was after we made noise and threatened to shut down services across the 47 devolved units,” said the governor.

 According to Barasa, counties are owed Sh65 billion for the month of March, April, and now May, "and if the government will not have released the money for the month of March by May 15th, we are going to shut down services."

 “Shutting down services means no single service will be given to the residents and that is why we are telling the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Prof Njuguna Ndung’u to make disbursements for the month of March in one week’s time because if he fails, we will not hesitate to paralyse services to the people," said the county chief.

 Siaya Governor James Orengo said that devolution was under threat due to constant delays by the government to release funds to counties.

 Mr Orengo added that the Kenya Kwanza administration was over-taxing Kenyans when the economy is doing badly.

According to Orengo, Kenyans must stand up and oppose the new taxes.  "They are over-taxing Kenyans to repay debts."

"We cannot be a country that relies on over-taxing its citizens.  We must stand and oppose the move by President William Ruto to over-tax Kenyans when people are going through hard times due to harsh economic times," said Orengo.

 “This government is borrowing to pay debts that is why we are saying in the next 12 months we must sit down and reason together and make sure we have a serious conversation about the credit of the country,” said Orengo.

Former Defense Cabinet Secretary Eugine Wamalwa said devolution is under threat following the agony governors are going through in getting funds meant for development in their counties.

 “We told you, people, that this regime will frustrate devolution, our governors are finding it hard to deliver to the people because they are in a constant fight with the national government over the delay of the funds to counties to run their affairs and this is a worrying trend, this Kenya Kwanza government is not willing to protect and support devolution," claimed Wamalwa.

 He urged governors to continue fighting for devolution so that their residents are able to get services uninterrupted.

 “In the last regime, our counties did well because there was goodwill from the government to protect and support devolution and we are promising our governors that we will give them support to foster devolution because devolution is in danger and governors should stand firm because they are the agents of devolution, “said Wamalwa.

 ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya warned MPs against adopting the high taxation proposed by the executive.

 “Those MPs who will endorse the proposal should be sent home because they will be part of the problem you will be facing."

Oparanya demanded the opening of the IEBC servers and having Azimio fully included in the selection panel of the IEBC commissioners and be allowed to nominate some of the members.

The former governor also urged the government to reduce the high cost of living before it can engage in bipartisan talks.

UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala urged the Inspector General of Police to ensure those who were involved in the death of the MCA are held responsible for the heinous act.

 "We are calling for the security apparatus to ensure people are held responsible because no one is allowed to take the life of another person," said Malala.

 The former senator urged residents of Kisa East and the ODM party to support the wife of the late MCA to succeed him.

 Kakamega County Commissioner John Ondego urged residents to remain and allow the security agencies to carry out investigations into the murder of Mr Maloba.

 He disclosed that police have arrested a man they believe could be a main suspect and they are in pursuit of other suspects.

 Kakamega County Assembly Speaker James Namatsi said MCAs must have their security scaled up because they are exposed to attacks.

Conspicously missing was area MP Christopher Aseka whose representatives were turned away by angry mourners