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Politics at play as governors, deputies engage in tough supremacy battles

By Kipchumba Some | November 22nd 2015
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua (left) with his deputy Bernard Kiala

They started off as friends with a common vision for their counties but they are now sworn enemies in a fierce contest for political supremacy ahead of 2017.

All is fair in love and war, it is said, and governors and their deputies have accused each other of all manner of things, from the bizarre to the prurient in an attempt to discredit each other.

Murang’a County is the latest to witness the ugly side of the fight between Governor Mwangi wa Iria and his deputy Gakure Monyo.

Three weeks ago, Mr Monyo reported to work only to find his office being demolished and his personal belongings strewn all over the floor, the result of bitter fallout with his boss.

Later, his official vehicle was intercepted by the police for using private registration numbers. Monyo said all this was to silence him over his outspoken position on corruption in the county government.

“My office is being refurbished without my knowledge, which is a clear indication of lack of dialogue and consultation,” said a stunned Monyo.

Wa Iria said the demolition of his deputy’s office was was part of the re-organisation he was carrying out to ensure better delivery of services to the people.

He becomes the latest deputy governor to face the wrath of his boss who accuses him of working with members of the county assembly to oust him. The governor survived an impeachment motion which he accused Monyo of supporting. Monyo, on the other hand, accused the governor of overseeing massive corruption.

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The saga between Wa Iria and Monyo calls to mind the long-running battle between Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua and his deputy Bernard Kiala.

By far the most tantalising and dramatic of the fallouts, both have unleashed whatever weapon and said every ugly word about each other.

Recently, Mutua accused Kiala of undermining him, being corrupt and even seeking sexual favours from “small girls” with the promise of giving them employment in the county government.

Not one to take a blow lying down, Kiala leveled the same charges against his boss, insinuating that he, Mutua, was worse in seeking favours from “small girls.”

Their fallout began when Mutua seemed to gravitate towards the Jubilee government while Kiala stuck with the Opposition’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

Last year, MCAs allied to Mutua impeached Kiala on corruption charges. However, he was saved by the Senate which overturned the impeachment.

But when he resumed work, he found his office had been raided and all furniture removed. All that was left was a single chair. His secretary was also missing.

Mutua went a step further. He stripped Kiala of his ministerial position as the head the county executive of Public Service, Labour and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Just like Monyo, the police earlier this month impounded Kiala’s car for using private number plates.

In Kisumu County, Governor Jack Ranguma has been engaged in a supremacy contest with his deputy Ruth Odinga for months now.

Ruth accused Ranguma of nepotism and sidelining her in the running of the county government. She further alleged that there was massive corruption in the county.

Ranguma accused his deputy of “blocking” him from serving the people of Kisumu County.

However, unlike in Murang’a and Machakos, the fight in Kisumu has largely been verbal. Ranguma has not had to demolish Akinyi’s office or have the police impound her official cars. Perhaps Ranguma would have done the same were it not for the fact that Ruth is sister to CORD leader Raila Odinga.

He may be out of government, but Raila still holds political sway in his Nyanza backyard and can easily make and break the political careers. Ruth has said that she will vie for the governor’s post in the next general elections.

But so far they seem to have reached some working understanding and were recently seen at a public function laughing cordially.

In Nyandarua, Governor Daniel Waithaka Mwangi and his deputy and namesake Waithaka Mwangi Kirika are locked in a battle to destroy one another politically.

Kirika, a former Kinangop MP, and candidate for the gubernatorial seat in the 2013 elections before reaching a pre-poll deal with the governor, has accused his boss of large-scale corruption.

The governor accuses his deputy of working in cahoots with some MCAs to impeach him. While the governor has the support of the MCAs, the deputy has the support of the county’s MPs and Senator Muriuki Karue.

Both Ruth and Kirika accused their bosses of sidelining them and reducing them to by-standers in the running of their counties affairs.

The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution and the County Governments Act 2012 say governors and their deputies are the CEOs and deputy CEOs of counties, respectively.

Ultimately, the governors have the upper hand in these fights. While they cannot fire their deputies, they wield all the powers.

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