Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu’s name has been dragged into the growing political tussle between the Taita Taveta Governor and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
Governor John Mruttu’s allies claim the MCAs are being bankrolled by the MP, influential politicians and businessmen, to destabilise the county administration.
“They are out to derail the development agenda of the governor who initiated a lot of development. We will not sit and watch as some few politicians undermine the county government,” Leonard Mwayongo, a former Taita-Taveta County Council civic leader, said.
Mr Mwayongo said the MP has persistently been undermining the county leadership and is using civil society groups to sabotage Mruttu’s government.
“The ODM MP is also financing the collection of signatures to remove the county government. Mwadeghu and his associates want the governor out of office. Since the legislator was appointed the minority chief whip, he has been using his powerful position to create disorder in the county government and to suppress other elected leaders,” he said.
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The former civic leader, who is also the Wundanyi Kanu Branch chairperson, says persistent wrangles will only impact negatively on the country’s development. He said the MP attended a meeting held recently in a Voi hotel to plan Mruttu’s ouster.
“We are convinced that the MP, who has declared interest for the governor’s seat, wants to have a firmer grip of the county and entrench himself and his supporters ahead of the 2017 General Election. This is a well calculated scheme to undermine the county government,” said another Mruttu ally Mathew Mwabili.
But Mwadeghu denied claims that he had paid civil society groups Sh2.5 million to collect signatures and bring down Mruttu’s government.
Speaking while distributing Uwezo Fund cheques to women and youth groups in his constituency, the MP however said Mruttu has been ignoring other leaders.
“To me the governor must go home because he has failed to live up to the expectations of the electorate. What is happening in Taita-Taveta has got nothing to do with me,” he said.
Mruttu and Mwadeghu have constantly been at loggerheads over the decision to relocate the county headquarters to Mgeno Community Reserves. The MP insists that the public was not consulted before the action was taken.
But Job Mwakesi, a URP activist, said the MP should not be fighting the governor as he had previously endorsed him. “He has no moral justification to politically fight him. The MP is a spoiler who is determined to undermine the Taitas and Tavetas unity,” Mr Mwakesi said.
Mruttu and the county assembly have been at odds following an attempt by the county assembly to impeach six county executive committee members. However, the High Court in Mombasa stopped their impeachment process.
And as a result of the endless political wrangles in the county, some civil society groups have began collecting signatures to remove the county government.
“An audit and found out that there is nothing tangible to show in terms of development. Once we get the requisite signatures, we will use them to petition the Presidents to dissolve the county government,” said Haji Mwakio, the Taita Taveta Human Rights Watch County Coordinator.
But Uraiya Trust official Richard Babu said they have withdrawn from the exercise. “The course was well intended but some of us were motivated by their personal interests at the expense of the residents of the county,” he said.
Mruttu has also told off those spearheading the scheme to oust him, warning them that they will fail.
“Let them continue collecting the signatures but I do not think they will succeed as removing the county government is very difficult,” he said.
This latest spat between Taita Taveta executive and the MCAs only adds to a string of challenges the Governor has had to contend with since he was elected.
Immediately he was sworn into office, Mruttu faced a long-drawn out petition filed by his challenger in the 2013 elections Jacinta Mwatela, a former Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor. The case dragged on in court for six months before it was ruled in his favour.
The governor was also embroiled in another court battle in 2013, with MCAs suing him for swearing-in 10 executives without the approval of the county assembly.
Months later, the governor was to survive an impeachment motion after County Assembly Speaker Maghanga Meshack Maghanga rejected it on the grounds that it was unprocedurally filed.
For two months, county government services were paralysed until an inter-faith group and Taita Council of Elders intervened and reconciled the warring parties. However, the matter is still pending at the High Court in Mombasa.
The matter had hardly been resolved when the MCAs passed another motion rejecting Mruttu’s move to reshuffle his executives. Pressure has also been mounting on the governor to sack some executives who residents say are corrupt.