Since the advent of devolution in 2013, wrangles between county chiefs and their deputies have dogged some counties.
Several attempts by party leaders, the Council of Governors and lobby groups to restore unity have borne little fruit in mending the relationships built on quicksand to win elections.
Barely eight months after they walked into the office, the same script has plagued Siaya, Baringo, Kericho and Meru counties and placed service delivery on the edge.
So bad is the situation that Siaya MCAs have already initiated impeachment proceedings against Deputy Governor William Oduol who has fallen out with James Orengo.
This has placed the implementation of their manifestos on the back burner, and pushed the leaders to contend with a working relationship akin to a forced political marriage.
This comes as it emerged that failure to implement pre-election pacts, including sharing of key appointments, corruption and clan politics, are behind the fallout between some governors and their deputies.
Observers believe that negotiated democracy embraced in several counties helped governors to settle on deputies from certain clans for regional balance, and the dictatorship by some political parties that selected deputies for their governor candidates is to blame for the fallouts.
The wrangles have diverted the attention of the devolved units from service delivery to supremacy contests.
Consequently, a toxic working environment has evolved in the four counties as county staff allied to feuding leaders also take sides.
In Baringo, Governor Benjamin Cheboi and his deputy Felix Maiyo have clashed over the choice of nominees for chief officer positions.
Maiyo claimed that he was sidelined in the appointment of 19 chief officers, saying what Cheboi did was against his father’s wishes.
Maiyo succeeded his father, Charles Kipng’ok, after his demise in September last year.
Soon after the names of the 19 chief officers were submitted to the county assembly for vetting, Maiyo went public and expressed his dissatisfaction over the choice of Cheboi’s nominees.
Maiyo posted a picture of his late father in one of the county’s WhatsApp groups, saying that he had failed to deliver his father’s wishes and went ahead to ask him for forgiveness.
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“I am sorry to have failed in delivering your wishes. Please forgive me. Continue resting in peace Dad,” Maiyo wrote on the Baringo Liberal Minds WhatsApp Group.
Maiyo received support from some Members of the County Assembly led by Kabarnet ward representative Arnest Kibet.
“We had a plan to work together with Cheboi but now we will no longer support his ideas. It was a shock to see that he sidelined DG Maiyo and Baringo Central in the CO’s list. This confirms to us that Governor Cheboi is doing his things,” said Kibet.
Cheboi forwarded the list of the 19 Chief Officers to the Assembly Clerk Winnie Chemase, but the matter is still pending at the assembly.
Cheboi has since denied any fallout between him and his deputy, insisting they are have a good working relationship.
In Kericho County, Governor Erick Mutai and his deputy Fred Kirui who won on a UDA ticket do not see eye to eye.
Sources from the two camps say their election pact entailed sharing the appointments, with Mutai taking 60 per cent and Kirui 40 per cent.
But as soon as they took the oath of office, the gentleman’s agreement was thrown out of the window leading to a gradual fallout.
Kirui accuses the governor of failing to stick to his side of the agreement and sidelining him in the management of the county affairs.
On Friday, during a local Television breakfast show, Kirui said that he was a victim and that Mutai had shut him out of the management of the county affairs and ignored their agreement.
“During our discussions, we signed an agreement that when we win elections, we would form the government together. He was expected to take care of 60 per cent as I remained with 40 per cent, the agreement is before a commissioner of oaths. However, I got zero shares,” Kirui explained.
He said the move by Mutai to overlook his CECs proposals did not go well, not only with him but with his supporters, who felt equally betrayed.
“That agreement with the governor was never about me but for the people who supported us. I was astonished because I got zero consideration for CEC slots, and my supporters were agitated,” he said.
According to Kirui, gaps in the constitution, which do not spell out the decisions deputy governors can make while in office, contributes to the negative treatment deputy governors receive.
“Most governors have used this leeway to sideline their deputies. They see us as competitors rather than partners,” Kirui said.
The deputy governor claim that even the CECs and COs of the county do not pick up his call or communicate with him over official matters.
Mutai accused his deputy of absconding duty and failing to attend key meetings at the county.
His alleged absence saw Mutai delegate executive duties to a county executive, a move that brought to the open the fallout between the governor and his deputy.
In Meru, Governor Kawira Mwangaza and her deputy Mutuma Ethingia have a frosty relationship.
Trouble began when a vehicle assigned to Ethingia was withdrawn as he and his wife left a church service in Igembe, setting in motion accusations that the administration was targeting him.
As claims of the split emerged the deputy governor skipped a cabinet meeting on Friday, with senior officials in Kawira’s administration accusing Ethingia of ignoring the crucial meeting.
County Secretary Kiambi Atheru, Kawira’s Chief of Staff Harrison Gitonga and other members of the county executive, on Friday, emerged from the meeting and said they were fully behind the governor.
They also dismissed accusations that the administration was undermining the deputy governor, and was targeting officials from his region.
MCAs have waded into the controversy threatening to reignite the impeachment motion against her and Atheru over the fallout with Ethingia.
In Siaya, the row pitting Oduol and his boss Orengo appears to have reached breaking point.
An MCA has filed an impeachment motion against Oduol in a row that has split residents, leaders and the ODM party.
A defiant Oduol, however, has vowed not to resign and insists he will not relent in his fight against what he considers injustice.
At the centre of the war of words are succession politics, tenders, appointments and alleged betrayal.
According to Salim Odeny, a political analyst, some deputies feel they are being sidelined. Some have unmet expectations arising from lack of clearly demarcated roles of the deputy governor. The are some of the reasons fuelling the conflicts.
“The squabbles affect service delivery because each side will be working to undermine the other, and in the process, it is the public who suffer,” he says.
And this is not the first we are witnessing fallouts between governors and deputies.
In Nyeri, Governor Mutahi Kahiga’s first term was marked by a fallout between him and his then deputy Caroline Karugu.
Yesterday, a deputy governor in Nyanza claimed that the only way to survive working with governors is to embrace sycophancy, especially if the governor has a listening year to their party leadership.
“The governors control resources, and we are almost subdued. The constitution should demarcate the roles of the deputy governor to avoid the squabbles we are witnessing,” he said.
[Harold Odhiambo, Steve Mkawale, Lydiah Nyawira and Phares Mutembei]