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President Uhuru Kenyatta, Bonny Khalwale face off on county commissioners

By GRACE WEKESA and DANIEL PSIRMOI | May 18th 2014 | 5 min read
 President Uhuru Kenyatta with Governor Ken Lusaka in Bungoma.   [PHOTOS: BENJAMIN SAKWA and PSCU]


Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta clashed with Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale over the creation of a new national administration structure.

The new structure will see County Commissioners wield more power on security, education, registration of persons among others.

The President, who was yesterday visiting Bungoma County for the first time since being elected, told the ‘bull fighter’ to let the Jubilee government implement its mandate to the full. President Uhuru, who was attending a thanksgiving fete for Governor Kenneth Lusaka, presided over by Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, promised goodies, wooing Bungoma County to support his government.

“The Constitution granted duties to both the national government and county government, our mandate is to ensure duties granted to the national and  county government are delivered,” said President Uhuru. He continued, “We want to reorganise the national administration to strengthen it so that we can deliver.”

Serve public

Khalwale had earlier sparked off debate, telling President Uhuru to his face that the Provincial Administration, as it is, was unconstitutional.

But the President said the county government has created their own structures that include ward, sub-county and village administrators to assist the county government.

Similarly, he said the strengthening of the county commissioners was to assist the national government effectively serve the public.

Khalwale, who was invited to speak  by Senator Moses Wetang’ula, told the President that in a recent ruling, the Judiciary had declared the appointment of county commissioners unconstitutional.

“Mr President, when Kijana Wamalwa, Raila Odinga, James Orengo, Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku and Kenneth Matiba fought for the Constitution, the relationship between the members of the public and then provincial administration was a frosty challenge,” Khalwale said.

“You said you granted the Provincial Administration more powers. I beg you Mr President to rethink the matter. The Judiciary considers  the position of the county commissioners unconstitutional, you need to subject your new system to consideration. Debate in the Senate and the National Assembly would review and interrogate in order to determine if the new provincial administration accords with the Constitution.”

But the President in response said his new structure was created to allow harmonious relationship between the national and county government.

He told Khalwale off saying it was his turn to run the government and that he (Khalwale) should pray that after the next four years, he would try his luck at the ballot.

“The other time I had all the time to talk. But now my government “ni ya kusema na kutenda”. It is now your time to speak but it is my time to work,” President  Uhuru said.

But both Khalwale and Wetang’ula opposed the new provincial administration structure saying it would create parallel structures and confusion and frustrate devolution.

“The Constitution stipulates that the chairman of the Security Committee in the county is the Governor, if we go by the Constitution, we want to see the governor chairing security meetings, where the county commissioner will participate and all the other elements of security that represent the national government. 

Because if we do not do that, we are would end up with parallel structures, confusion and eventually  insecurity will continue to be a threat,” said Wetang’ula. “You should also reign on your officers on the roads who take bribes while Kenyans die on road,” he continued

But President Uhuru took the opportunity to warn rogue county commissioners found harassing and creating confusion in the counties that their days are numbered.

“The new structures are for purposes of creating harmonious relations between the two governments. County commissioners must work with the county government. Those found harassing wananchi will be sacked,” President Uhuru said.

Tough laws

Lusaka called on Khalwale to allow them to work with the Government for the sake of development saying.

“We need to work together with Senators to spur development. Divisive politics will not help the people”,.

On security, New ford Kenya party leader Eugene Wamalwa who spoke on behalf of former MPs challenged MPs to push for the legislation and adoption of tough laws that would not allow terrorists to be bailed out easily.

“Parliament has the power to strengthen security by passing tough laws with the current threat of terrorism. Consequently, Judiciary will not to give bails to terrorist victims.  If we handle security matters in coordination, we shall win war against terrorists,’’ Wamalwa observed.

Wetangula called for a major surgery in the security system. “We in the opposition feel the pain of Kenyans dying unnecessary through terror attacks.

The Government should understand  it cannot  win the war against terrorism with brute force and ineffective intelligence. Without security no development will take place,’’ Bungoma senator advised.

President Uhuru said there is no way the National government in Nairobi will be able to deal with issues of insecurity at the grassroots if the members of the public do not work closely with national administration structure and the county government. “I have instructed county commissioners to work with governors, I am asking other leaders to join hands and work with the new administrative structures to ensure citizens are safe,’’ said President Uhuru.

 Former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli on the other  hand advised President Uhuru on how  to capture Bungoma residents votes.

“If you want to get votes in Bungoma Mr President, revive PanPaper, construct a tea factory in Mt Elgon, grant Kibabii college a charter and you will be safe,” Bifwoli said.

Advanced stage 

“Plans are at an advanced stage to revive Panpaper. We have found an investor and we will soon be coming to reopen it. On Kibabii, we will meet soon with the Governor and grant it a charter before end of the year,” he said.

The President was accompanied Cabinet Secretaries Michael Kamau (Infrastructure), Judy Wakhungu (Environment) Felix Koskei (Agriculture) and Adan Mohamed (Industrialisation) Cabinet Secretaries.

He assured residents that cheap sugar imports will be dealt with to protect the sugar industry and asked them to diversify into tea and dairy farming. Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi was absent, saying he was attending a funeral in Migori.

Also present were Uasin Governor Jackson Mandago,MPs John Serut, Suleiman Murunga (Kimilili), Simiyu Eseli (Tongaren), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi), Alfred Sambu (Webuye East), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Boniface Otsula (Bumula), John Waluke (Sirisia), Emanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Dr. Reginalda Wanyonyi, Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Bunyasi Sakwa (Nambale), Wafula Lazaro (Saboti).

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