Senators milk 2022 mileage from audit woes against governors



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The ambition to control county billions after the next general election has stirred a fresh wave of political tussles as senators and MPs position themselves to occupy the governor’s post.

The senators have particularly been accused of capitalising on the governors’ alleged failures to build their cases and political profiles ahead of the next polls.

Many of the legislators have made no secret of their ambitions in the 2022 elections, with governors accusing senators of using the Senate’s County Public Accounts and Investments Committee to wrest power from them.

Ideally, holders of the two offices should work together, but feuds between them appear to be driven by the highly charged 2022 politics.

And ironically, many of these governors and senators belong to the same party, but that is all they have in common.

The fiery sessions witnessed when governors honour summonses to answer to audit queries have pointed to this growing rift.

The political rivalry between Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Senator Mithika Linturi played out during the questioning of the county boss over 2017/18 audit report. Both were elected on a Jubilee Party ticket.

The political allies-turned-foes were embroiled in bitter exchanges over the running of the county affairs.

Mr Murungi accused the senator, who had dismissed talk of running for the governor’s seat in 2022, of using audit reports to discredit his administration and advance his political interests.

He claimed Mr Linturi wanted to unseat him in 2022 and used Ouko’s reports to fan political propaganda and incite the MCAs and residents against him.

Also, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria asked senators to cease politicising audit questions.

Appearing in the Senate, Mr Wa Iria, who is also the Council of Governors vice-chairperson, accused the committee members of trying to pin down governors on issues raised by the auditor-general to gain political mileage.

“The problem with some of you senators is that you pick issues and you want to drive them politically without allowing the due process to take place. Some of us governors become very frustrated when you become overly active and enthusiastic when you are grilling a governor and you do not do the same when we raise real devolution issues,” he said.

He spoke when he appeared before the committee where Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, whose name has featured in county political discussions as a possible gubernatorial candidate, was present.

The proceedings of the committee also nearly aborted when Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti and Senator Fatuma Dulo clashed over local politics. They were also elected on a Jubilee Party ticket.

In Nandi, differences between Governor Stephen Sang and Senator Kiprotich Cherargei resurfaced months after Deputy President William Ruto brokered a truce between them.

The two, who rode on the ruling party’s wave, have engaged in public exchanges over corruption and other allegations related to the running of the county.

The Senate committee has summoned 18 governors to respond to audit questions regarding the 2017/18 financial year expenditure.

They will investigate Embu, Lamu, Nairobi, Kiambu, Wajir, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Taita Taveta and Murang’a governors.

Other counties listed in the summonses signed by Clerk of the Senate are Tana River, Meru, Isiolo, Turkana, Kirinyaga, Mombasa, Mombasa, West Pokot and Kilifi.

In 2015, a three-judge bench comprising justices Isaac Lenaola, Mumbi Ngugi and George Odunga said the Senate could summon governors to answer questions on county government finances.

They said the Senate was required to undertake its oversight role and summoning powers.

But Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya accused the committee members of using the anti-graft war to project themselves as potential candidates against the county bosses.


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