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Embu Deputy Governor resigns as Health CEC

Governor Martin Wambora displays his oath of office certificate at Embu Stadium, August 18, 2017. Right, his deputy David Kariuki. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

A row is brewing in Embu after the county assembly challenged Governor Martin Wambora's decision to appoint a chief officer as acting health minister.

The appointment of Public Service chief officer John Mukundi follows the resignation of the county health executive David Kariuki who doubled up as the deputy governor.

Kariuki, who is also eying the county's senatorial seat, quit the health docket citing the lack of support to implement reforms he'd hoped would revive the sector.

And on Wednesday, Majority Leader in the county assembly Lenny Masters Mwaniki said Wambora erred by appointing a chief officer, who'd not been vetted by MCAs, to perform duties of health CEC.

"He has not even communicated his decision to the county assembly as required under the law. However, in any case, the governor should have appointed one of the CECs to the position because all ministers were vetted before their appointment," Mwaniki said.

Muminji MCA Newton Karish shared similar sentiments accusing the governor of violating the law.

Governor Martin Wambora. [David Gichuru, Standard]

While resigning, Kariuki said he had decided to quit and asked Wambora to replace him so he is not blamed for the failures of the health docket. 

He said he tried everything he could to resuscitate the county's health sector but did not achieve much "because of lack of necessary support."

"The story of public hospitals in Embu is a long one. I have tried where I could since April 2021 when I was asked to hold the docket in addition to my roles as deputy governor. However, I don't want to be blamed for the many challenges facing the health sector in this county," Kariuki said.

The health sector in Embu has faced many challenges that have seen health workers often down their tools.

In October last year, health workers went on strike complaining about poor working conditions. They also complained about non-remittance of statutory deductions to relevant institutions, partial payment of salaries, shortage of staff, lack of drugs and equipment in health facilities.

They have accused Wambora and the County Public Service Board of neglecting them by failing to address their grievances.

Kariuki's resignation came as a utility company wrote to the biggest public hospital in the county, giving it up to January 13 to clear Sh15 million in unpaid bill failure to which the services will be discontinued.