In what could be ranked as second in Kenyan politics under the new devolved system of governance, Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja has not only called for dissolution of the county government he heads, he has taken a step further and collected more than 50,000 signatories which is more than required.
It should be remembered, there was a similar attempt by Makueni Governor Dr. Kivutha Kibwana to have Makueni County dissolved in 2014 but it bore no fruits after President Kenyatta declined to approve the petition. The 006 Governor has been busy making high profile meetings to discuss the crisis that forced him to call for dissolution of the county.
However, some quarters believe there’s more to this petition than meets the eye! One would ask, why would the governor do self- appraisal and decide to fall on his own sword? Is it a case of the chips being down? Hence the governor is playing victim by weeping people’s emotions when the reality is the governor wasn’t up for the task in the first place?
The county’s residents have for the past two years wallowed in empty promises showered to them during the campaign period, on to be treated to this absurd circus. With the health sector still the same, no tangible development projects to show off, the residents can’t be so oblivious not to realize the leadership of the county is wanting. Is the county ready for a paradigm shift? Well the picture painted from the signatories collected, shows a discourse over the leadership among the residents.
There’s an opinion that the ongoing wrangles are caused by access being denied on both parts [the Governor and the MCA’s] to loot public funds. It’s a case of I should get a bigger pie than you. But is it really for the interests of the people? From the misappropriation of funds witnessed from different counties, the writing is on the wall. The bone of contention is both sides are accusing each other of acting on bad faith. However, the governor seems to be a step ahead in emboldening resolve to twist the knife in the MCA’S wounds for frustrating his plans for the county. He believes the County Assembly has engaged in acts that are inimical to the interests of Datuzens. He admits that the differences between him and MCA’S are irreconcilable and have impacted negatively on the county’s development agenda.
How did we get here in the first place? Well the bad blood between the Governor and the MCA’S came after, he fell out with them [MCA’S] when he failed to ascend the 5.6 billion budget for 2019/2020 financial year. In the petition, Samboja accuses the assembly of derailing devolution by reducing money allocated for payment of pending bills, budget allocation for casual employees and allocation for Datu Sawazisha fund. In dispute is Sh. 833 million that the MCA’S allocated themselves through the ward development fund.
Residents now have been reduced to begging for access to good health, infrastructure and other government services. This is true to the saying, “when two bulls fight the grass suffers.” Though in low tones the residents’ agony can be heard. The residents are now perplexed on to whom do they direct their agony.
However, access has been denied even in the county’s living room where junior staff are in quagmire over their unpaid salaries. One staff who chose to remain anonymous narrated the difficulties they are facing, having worked the whole month yet nothing to bring home. They are mastering the art of perseverance, which is key for their survival.
Clerics in the county have intervened, playing the role of mediators but Samboja still remains adamant over his decision to dissolve the county. The sit downs are yet to bear any fruits, with the little hope fizzling after the clerics gave an ultimatum to Samboja over his tough stance. They claim the governor has been snubbing any reconciliation meetings they organize. There’s word that the Governor is unmoved and would hear nothing, after he learnt of the MCA’S plan to impeach him. A close source from the county claims the assembly is playing PR appearance, claiming to be ready for a reconciliation when fact is there is still bad blood.
How the situation will pan out remains to be seen. The locking of horns between the two parties has procrastinated development in the county. Clerics cannot afford to be pushed out of the situation, they have to play Kofi Annan’s role to the latter. Hope remains the clergy gets the Wisdom of Solomon to end this circus.
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