CoG bid to join Munga-wa Iria battle scuttled
Monday, May 27, 2019 20:27
By JOSEPH WANGUI
The High Court has stopped the Council of Governors (CoG) from joining a legal battle pitting billionaire Peter Munga against Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria over control of county water services provider.
Justice Kanyi Kimondo, while rejecting the governors’ application to be enjoined in the suit as an interested party, said the fight does not involve counties but is an internal matter in Murang’a.
“The dispute before the court revolves around the control and management of water resources in Murang’a. The tussle is between the county and existing water and sanitation companies. No other county is involved,” said Justice Kimondo in his ruling.
He ruled that it was doubtful the Council of Governors had a personal stake in the dispute or will be affected by the judgment of the case. The CoG, where Mr wa Iria is vice chairman, expressed its interest in the case because it had been involved in the review of the water sector policy and regulations since 2013.
Through lawyer Peter Wanyama, the governors’ lobby group submitted that it intended to enrich the case through comparative perspectives drawn from other counties and by highlighting the relevant case law.
The court heard that the judgment in the case would affect the COG as the body coordinating all county governments and functions. The case started last year after Mr wa Iria replaced Mr Munga with Joseph Kimura as the chairman of the Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco).
Three residents — Mercy Wanjiku Kimwe, Anthony Mutiria Mwangi and Jane Nyambura Wanyoike — petitioned the court to quash Prof Kimura’s appointment.
The CoG supported the governor on grounds that counties have the mandate to control the water sector.
Mr Munga together with Muwasco, through lawyer Anthony Kabathi, opposed the application saying it was aimed at causing a delay in conclusion of the suit and that CoG was not a necessary party in the dispute.
Justice Kimondo heard that the council’s functions in section 20 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act do not include coordination of county governments, which is a preserve of another organ, the National County Governments Co-ordinating Summit.
The petitioners submitted that the proper organ for the protection of water rights is the Water Services Regulatory Authority.
In his ruling, Justice Kimondo found the governors’ application devoid of merit but he saved it from carrying costs of the application as it went to court “holding the banner displaying public interest”.