Talks to end 3-month Taita Taveta budget standoff begins

Taita-Taveta Governor Granton Samboja (right) alongside Senator Jones Mwaruma (centre) and Voi MP Jones Mlolwa, addresses a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, to give updates on progress made relating to the dissolution of his county government following disagreements with MCAs. [David Njaaga,Standard]

Negotiations to find a settlement to the three-month 2019-2022 budget standoff between the executive and Members of the County Assembly have started.

The negotiations come after Deputy President William Ruto last week differed with Governor Granton Samboja (pictured) over the budget standoff.

The DP told local leaders that the county would not be dissolved and anyone pursuing that course should stop and embrace dialogue.

Taveta MP Naomi Shaban confirmed that the mediation process, led by Anglican Church of Kenya Diocese Bishop Liverson Mngonda, had already started.

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Speaking at a meeting in her constituency yesterday, the Jubilee Party legislator disclosed that the ongoing mediation process would end the budget impasse.

“We will address the budget problem that has derailed development,” Dr Shaban told the DP last week.

Majority leader Jason Tuja confirmed that the assembly had picked Deputy Speaker Chrispus Tondoo, Budget Committee Chairman Godwin Kilele, and Nominated MCAs Christopher Mwambingu and Rose Shingira to represent them at the mediation talks.

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The executive has picked Finance Executive Devis Mwangoma and Lands Executive Gertrude Shuwe for the mediation talks. The other member of the executive team is the county Legal Director Edwin Ayiro.

Mediation team

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Last Friday, the executive team met Bishop Mng’onda, who is leading the talks.

“The bishop met the executive representatives to get their views. We are yet to meet with the executive on a round table meeting to sort out the matter,” stated Mr Tuja yesterday.

The governor declined to assent to the budget estimates after MCAs slashed the executive budget and allocated about Sh833 million to the Ward Development Fund.

Samboja claims he has collected more than 52,000 signatures to support dissolution of the county government following the crisis.

During his tour, Dr Ruto told Samboja that the county government would not be dissolved. He advised the governor to instead negotiate a settlement to the three-month budget standoff that has stalled operations of the county government.

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The DP noted that even at the national level, they had faced a similar budget problem in the equitable share of national revenue.

“Senators had gone to court to seek redress and were advised to embrace dialogue with the National Assembly. But we did everything possible to end the crisis that has delayed disbursement of county funds and delivery of services to Kenyans,” stated Ruto.

The DP said the county budget crisis had been compounded by chest-thumping among elected leaders.

The governor has met President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka over the impasse.

The MCAs have also met Raila twice. They have also met Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

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Last week, MPs who had earlier supported the governor’s dissolution process, led by Senator Johnes Mwaruma, abandoned the course and instead called for dialogue

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William RutoGovernor Granton SambojaLiverson MngondaTaita Taveta standoff