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Tharaka Nithi governorship race hots up, Muthomi Njuki loses grip on MCAs

The majority leader accused the nominated MCAs of being inefficient in assembly, saying for example none of them had tabled any motion or Bill in the assembly for the four years they have served there.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 09 Oct 2016 17:24 EAT

Governor Ragwa at the inspection of a road construction project. (Photo: Courtesy/Tharaka Nithi county government website).

Is the honeymoon between Chuka Igambang’ombe MP Muthomi Njuki and opponents of Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa over? This was the question on the lips of local political observers last week after two rival camps of MCAs (members of the county assembly) clashed at the assembly in Chuka Town over county government expenditure.

Four nominated MCAs (James Mutembei, Faith Njeri, Naomi Kawira and Stephanina Ciamati) stormed a meeting of elected MCAs called by the assembly Speaker John Mbaabu, demanding that the elected leaders make changes to the budget estimates and provide funds for the physically disabled people in Tharaka Nithi.

The Speaker, John Mbaabu, was in the middle of a meeting on Tuesday when the four struck, alleging that the elected MCAs had diverted Sh30 million previously budgeted for the disabled to early childhood development programmes.

The two sides exchanged bitter words, forcing the Speaker to be whisked away to his car, leaving the MCAs in a fighting mood. The nominated MCAs shouted expletives at the elected MCAs, accusing them of working in cahoots with county government officials to loot funds from the local treasury.

While the Sh30 million budget was their main grievance, the nominated MCAs also accused their elected counterparts of sidelining them in the running of the assembly’s business, claims which the elected members denied.

The majority leader in the assembly Wilson Nyaga disputed claims that his team has been intimidating the nominated MCAs in the discharge of their duties. “These guys have their own interest, and we know they are aligned to a certain gubernatorial aspirant," Nyaga said.

The majority leader accused the nominated MCAs of being inefficient in assembly, saying for example none of them had tabled any motion or Bill in the assembly for the four years they have served there.

A similar view was expressed by the assembly budget and appropriation committee chairman Karani Laban who said the Sh30 million for disabled persons was budgeted to come from donor funds and was not realized when donors didn’t come through.

"I met the four out of nine making a lot of noise yet the other nominated MCAs were not complaining, they have been promised nominations by a gubernatorial aspirant from Chuka come 2017 so they can make a lot of noise to get those slots they have their own interest they have been told to disrupt proceedings of the county assembly," Karani said. 

The chairman said that some assemblymen had given information to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption about alleged corruption in the assembly, only for the allegations to be proved false. He said EACC officers spent nearly a month in Chuka investigating corruption but they did not find anyone culpable.

That only four MCAs dispute the functioning of the local administration reflects a change of fortunes for the candidature of Mr Njuki who is being fronted by the local political elite to oust Governor Ragwa in 2017. The MP has the support of the senator, women representative and a majority of the MPs from Tharaka Nithi.

However, more MCAs, including many of whom were in the MP’s camp as recently as June, have come to realise the hard battle he needs to fight to oust Governor Ragwa. Some are now staying on the fence while others have joined Ragwa’s camp.

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