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Gusii leaders now disagree over State House visit

RIFT VALLEY
By NAFTAL MAKORI | February 16th 2014

By NAFTAL MAKORI

Nyamira, Kenya: Divisions have emerged among the Gusii leadership over a recent visit to State House by 15 Members of Parliament from the region.

Majority of Nyamira County leaders snubbed the meeting, which was arranged by Information Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i. The leaders were expected to discuss the region’s development agenda with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire and Women Representative Alice Chae were the only leaders from Nyamira who attended the last Wednesday meeting. Other leaders who never met the President have asked Gusii County to keep off the affairs of Nyamira County.

Governor John Nyagarama, Senator Mong’are Okong’o, MPs James Gesami (W. Mugirango), Charles Geni (N. Mugirango) and Ben Momanyi (Borabu) boycotted the State House meeting.

Speaking at Keginga village in Borabu Constituency during the burial of Jerusha Kerebi Obutu, mother-in-law to Gov. Nyagarama, the leaders criticised Kisii County leaders for purporting to speak for the entire Gusii community. They accused Kisii leaders of belittling Nyamira and disrespecting the independence of the county.

While justifying why they boycotted the State House meeting, Borabu MP Ben Momanyi said Nyamira would not play second fiddle to Kisii. “The meeting was a Kisii County affair and we were not invited. Each county has a right to independently get the audience of the President. We ask our governor to fix a date with the President so that we tell him what the people of Nyamira want. For how long shall live be under the shadow of Kisii County? We must stand tall and be counted,” he said.

Ongwae attacked

Members of the County Assembly present, led by Speaker Mong’are Kingoina and Leader of Majority Beauttah Omanga, hit out at Kisii Governor James Ongwae, who they accused of interfering with Nyamira leadership. “It is an insult to Nyamira leaders when Ongwae says he led a delegation on behalf of entire Gusiiland. We are independent,” said Mr Omanga.

The Speaker asked Ongwae to keep his hands off the disputed Keroka Town, which straddles the Kisii-Nyamira boundary.

But Mr Ongwae said during the State House meeting, issues affecting Nyamira County were adequately presented and urged the leaders to stop playing politics with development.

“The meeting was not about our political or regional affiliations, but development of both Kisii and Nyamira counties. As Gusii leaders, we had discussed the need for unity and we represented the entire community and the interests of our people. Gusii community is one and we should not be divided by geographical boundaries,” he said.

Dr Matiang’i, who was attending a leaders’ meeting at Menyenya High School on Friday, said: “The President is ready to work for all communities. Gusii leaders held a successful meeting with the President last Wednesday.Some leaders absconded and I believe they had their own reasons. We respect their position.”

The Cabinet Secretary said President Kenyatta was planning a three-day working tour of Kisii and Nyamira counties.

He said the Government would upgrade Kisii Level 5 Hospital into a referral facility.

Hypocrites

Mr Bosire said it was hypocritical for some Nyamira leaders to snub the State House meeting. “We had agreed it was not a party or county issue. We were to represent the entire Gusii community. We want development for our people and we cannot achieve that alone. Some colleagues have decided to play petty politics and it is a shame,” said Bosire.

Chae said: “I do not apologise for turning up to talk to our President. We must rise above petty politics. Matters to do with parties ended immediately after last general election.”

Majority of leaders from Kisii and Nyamira are allied to CORD. A Kisii County Senator, a close ally of Raila Odinga, said they agreed to meet the President regardless of political affiliation so they could talk about development.


 

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