Top Stories / National
Wednesday, 15 Jun 2016 11:00 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
Four Bungoma residents have filed a petition to the Senate seeking to have their governor, Ken Lusaka, probed for corruption.
Philip Wanyonyi, John Mukenya, Albert Lumumba and John Khaoya wrote to the Senate, accusing the governor of failing to stem corruption in his government.
In the petition, the four pointed out cases of what they allege to be gross overpricing of goods purchased by the county government and expenditure on unnecessary services. They cite the recently revealed purchase of wheelbarrows at KSh109,000 each and the hosting of Congolese musician Kanda Bongoman, which they say was done using taxpayers’ money, as some of the issues that taint Lusaka’s leadership.
The petitioner also accused the county of not paying contractors who have supplied services, with many bills yet to be settled.
In his defense, Governor Lusaka, who is the only pro-Jubilee governor in Western Kenya, termed the petition as a move by the opposition to try and destroy his political career.
He alleged that Ford-Kenya party leader and CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula, who is also the senator for Bungoma, is the one sponsoring the petition in order to ruin Lusaka’s political career. The governor termed Wetang’ula “a malicious leader” who was fighting his regime to further selfish interests.
In the Kanda Bongoman allegation, he stated that the musician had been sponsored by Mediamax and that he attended the concert at the county in his capacity as the governor.
Lusaka has in the past found himself fending off one corruption allegation after another. Last week, Wetang’ula stated that the county had become notorious for graft and that the governor ‘belonged to prison for misappropriation of taxpayers’ money.’
In September last year, the Bungoma county government caused an uproar when they purchased 10 wheelbarrows at KSh1.09 million, meaning each wheelbarrow cost Sh109,000.
Lusaka, in defending the purchases, described the wheelbarrows as ‘not ordinary’ and ‘made of stainless, non-carcinogenic material’ when asked of the dubious purchase. However, following public outcry, he later called for an audit into the controversial purchase.
In 2014, Bungoma County Assembly Majority leader Majimbo Okumu threatened to table an impeachment motion against the governor, claiming that Lusaka had procured fertilizer worth Sh108 million without the approval of the assembly. However, the MCA did not garner sufficient support among his colleagues to make the threat real.
In July 2015, Bungoma MCAs threatened to impeach Lusaka for what they termed poor governance. Led by Kilimani MCA David Barasa, the assemblymen claimed that Sh850 million meant for development in the 47 wards of the county were returned to the Central Bank for lack of implementation of the legislation by the governor.
With the Bungoma county government fast becoming fodder for internet memes, Lusaka found himself in the spotlight for yet more financial impropriety, this time for the alleged purchase of an executive seat and a stool for Sh2.7 million. In a statement issued on May 16th, Lusaka denied the allegations and requested that “the architect of the said propaganda to forthwith stop the ongoing misinformation.”
Lusaka has also come under heavy fire for numerous pointless trips abroad, usually in the company of a large entourage. In July 2014, he took a team of 15 county officials to Spain on a three-week trip, which aimed at partnering with the county government of Asturia in establishing waste management policies.
Later in 2015, he went on a visit to the US to attend a four day workshop on waste management which saw him take a 12-member delegation team among them his Bishop James Murunga, childhood friend and businessman Tony and his wife.
Senator Wetang’ula, who is no friend of Lusaka’s, exposed the dilapidated state of Bungoma Referral Hospital while Lusaka was still abroad. The story unearthed the neglect and state of disrepair that the hospital was in, showing leaky roofs, stinking wards and rust in the ceilings and doors of the hospital.
Governor Lusaka has maintained he is ready to clear his name of any wrongdoing.
Kiraka is a student of journalism at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK). His interests are business, politics, sports and media criticism.