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Governors from Western walking tightrope with MCAs baying for their blood

By John Shilitsa | June 22nd 2020

Governors from counties in Western region are walking a tightrope to serve their full terms.

Members of County Assemblies in Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and even Kakamega are baying to draw the blood of county executives, some doing their second and final term while others serving their first.

Governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Sospeter Ojaamong are the latest in the growing list of those who have fallen out of favour with the MCAs barely two years to the end of their terms.

A bid to kick out Ojaamong took a new twist after constituents of a ward rep behind the impeachment plan started collecting signatures to recall the MCA.

In Busia, Bukhayo North-Walatsi MCA Gardy Jakaa has vowed to table an impeachment motion against the governor. Jakaa argues that the county chief faces a corruption case that makes him unsuitable to continue serving as governor. Now the MCA is on a mission to collect signatures from like-minded MCAs.

Jakaa, who successfully ran as an independent candidate, has vowed to carry on with the plans despite backlash from the governor’s supporters.

“Nothing will stop us from kicking out Ojaamong because we have sufficient grounds to do so,” said Jakaa.

Reacting to the development, the governor played down plans to oust him, arguing that it has become a habit for Jakaa to threaten him with impeachment. Ojaamong dismissed as an exercise in futility attempts by the MCAs to have him impeached.

The governor read political malice in the plot and demanded the MCAs allow court process to determine the matter.

Locals interviewed gave mixed reactions over the planned censure motion against Ojaamong, with some arguing the governor’s performance was wanting while others defended his service.

In Bungoma, Governor Wangamati has been having sleepless nights after the Ford Kenya dominated County Assembly warned him to brace for tough times ahead. MCAs accuse the governor of waging a war against their party boss Moses Wetang’ula.

Chaos in assembly

The assembly has witnessed chaotic scenarios and changes in the House leadership that saw MCAs allied to Wangamati pushed out leaving the governor exposed.

The recent attempted coup in Ford Kenya, which saw Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi seize the party leader position, albeit on interim basis with Eseli Simiyu (MP Tongareni) retaining the secretary general post, has made matters worse for Wangamati.

Wangamati’s two ministers have already been impeached with focus now shifting to the embattled governor.

Those shown the door were Public Administration executive Richard Sabwami and his Health counterpart Anthony Walela, both close confidants of the governor.

Earlier, Wetang’ula who had a difficult time returning to Bungoma on Friday after police teargassed his convoy, met Ford Kenya MCAs at his Namuyemba village in the outskirts of Bungoma town and warned Wangamati to prepare for a bare-knuckled fight.

“Governor Wangamati and Wycliffe Oparanya, CS Eugene Wamalwa and Francis Atwoli must know their goose is cooked,” declared Wetang’ula.

While Oparanya has on many occasions in the past managed to suppress impeachment motions against him through divide and rule tactics in the county assembly, his Vihiga counterpart Wilbur Ottichilo came close to being kicked out of office a couple of months ago.

Amani National Congress party, through the dethroned minority leader David Ndakwa, has always held Oparanya by the neck demanding the governor be accountable and observe equity while implementing development projects.

Ottichilo had to rush to Kakamega High Court to obtain a restraining order against the motion being tabled at the Vihiga County Assembly. A section of MPs from these counties have been questioning the governors' performance.

“Why would the governor rush into a meeting with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i on pretext of discussing development matters for Western when they control billions of shillings which can hardly be accounted for,” wondered Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali.

Nambale MP John Bunyasi challenged the governors to make public development projects their counties have implemented since devolution.

Oparanya, Ottichilo and Ojaamong led a section of legislators from Western in a meeting with Matiang’i and CS Wamalwa on Thursday. Conspicuously missing were governors Wangamati and his Trans Nzoia counterpart Patrick Khaemba. 

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