NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 4 – Lawmakers representing Taita Taveta County in the national legislature have declared their support for Governor Granton Samboja’s bid for the dissolution of the county over a standoff between the Executive the County Assembly on the 2019/20 budget.
The legislators led by Senator Jones Mwaruma accused Members of County Assembly (MCAs) of sabotaging the county’s development agenda by undermining a public-participation-based spending plan.
“It is worrying that without public participation, the County Assembly submitted in its budget estimates to the County Executive development projects that failed to capture the most pressing development such as healthcare and food security that our county is grappling with,” said Mwaruma.
“We hereby welcome the move by Governor Samboja of seeking help of our people in restoring order and dignity in the affairs of our County. We collectively support the governor’s petition of seeking the dissolution of the county; we salute this courageous move by the governor, and we call upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to set a precedent by forming a tribunal that will see the dissolution of the county.”
Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako faulted the MCAs who he said were engaged in political grandstanding, forgetting that they were elected to serve the interests of Taita Taveta residents.
“We would rather lack services for 3 months but make sure everyone knows what they need to do. We have told those MCAs time and again that their role is to oversight and not undertake projects. They should ensure that the money allocated to the executive is well utilized for the benefit of the residents,” said Mwashako.
Governor Samboja kicked off a signature collection exercise to mobilize support for the dissolution of the devolved unit on Tuesday after declining to sign budget estimates amended by the County Assembly.
Samboja, who is serving his first term as the governor, said he had decided to petition President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the county government over what he termed as harassment by MCAs.
The MCAs and the Executive have disagreed on Sh5.6 billion budget for this 2019/20 financial year, Samboja declining to sign budget estimates presented to him on Friday last week.
“I have today decided, in accordance to the constitution, to call all county residents to petition President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the county of Taita Taveta to give us a fresh start,” said Samboja during a media briefing at his Wundanyi office.
According to Samboja, the MCAs slashed the county budget estimates for services hence denying county government an opportunity to execute its development plan.
He faulted them for reducing allocations for payment of casual and other county employees hired on contracts.
“The casuals the MCAs are talking about are nurses and Early Childhood Education (ECD) teachers. Do they want us to sack the nurses and teachers, whereas we are already experiencing a deficit of over 400 nurses?” posed Samboja.
The Taita Taveta County has 180,000 registered voters; therefore, Samboja needs only 18,000 signatures to petition President Kenyatta to dissolve the county.
“MCAs have stood in the way, the county government failed to pass the budget estimates on time. They have increased the department allocations by a uniform 10 per cent. The MCAs are demanding 41.6 million in each ward, which means we will be forced to disburse up to Sh830 million which is 15 per cent of total budget estimates against the 3 per cent that the law provides for,” said Samboja.