Ngilu, Kalonzo fight moves to county assembly
- Governor Ngilu’s six nominees to the Kitui County Public Service Board were rejected last week by the county assembly.
- During Ms Ngilu's inauguration as governor in 2017, Mr Musyoka said she would head a county with majority Wiper MCAs, which will make her life difficult.
The rivalry between Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has reared its ugly head again, with allegations that the former vice-president is using the county assembly to sabotage Ms Ngilu’s administration.
Their rivalry played out at Kitui County Assembly, which is controlled by the majority Wiper MCAs. Ms Ngilu’s Narc Party is a minority in the assembly.
Governor Ngilu’s six nominees to the Kitui County Public Service Board were rejected last week by the county assembly.
Smarting from the rejection, the governor pointed an accusing finger at Mr Musyoka.
The signs had been ominous from the time the list was submitted by Ms Ngilu in February, when the assembly suddenly adjourned without making any decision.
When she raised concerns over the delay at a time when the Ministry of Health had directed all counties to fast-track the hiring of health workers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, county Speaker George Ndotto said the assembly would not sit since it was observing the social distancing order.
However, it is not lost on all that Mr Ndotto is himself a political rival of the governor, having unsuccessfully contested against her in four parliamentary elections since 1992.
When the House finally reconvened after being sued by the county Executive coupled with advise from the Attorney-General, the MCAs went ahead and rejected the whole list.
“It is unfortunate that the Wiper party leader is behind this grandstanding at the county assembly. The aim is to stop service delivery so that we are seen to have failed in our mandate. This has to stop,” said Ms Ngilu while addressing the press at her office on Friday.
During Ms Ngilu's inauguration as governor in 2017, the Nasa co-principal did not mince his words, reminding her that she would head a county with majority Wiper MCAs, which will make her “life” difficult.
“Your administration is a minority government and I hold the majority. We must work together,” said Mr Musyoka.
In the last general election, Ms Ngilu defeated Mr Julius Malombe, the Wiper candidate and a close ally of Mr Musyoka.
From the onset, Governor Ngilu’s administration has been on the receiving end of Wiper's hostility.
Last year, the assembly shot down two budgets, only to pass the 2019/2020 budget six months later, in December.
The House also rejected two chief officer nominees even after relevant committees approved them, and went ahead to deny funds to Kitui County Textile Centre (KICOTEC).
The MCAs also sat on the County Corporation Bill that would have helped KICOTEC to acquire legal status.
However, the textile centre has now become the foremost local frontline PPE factory in the fight against Covid-19 in the country.
The ward representatives’ stance only softened when President Uhuru Kenyatta offered to support the facility, forcing them to finally approve the County Corporation Act.
In a real case of “cut your nose to spite the face,” the MCAs approved the creation of the Mwingi Municipality in a single day.
However, they went ahead to reject the nominees to the County Board, yet the board needed to appoint the Mwingi Municipality Board and the Municipal Manager to give the municipality the governance structure it needs.
Wiper Secretary-General Peter Mathuki dismissed the claims of interference as being below the stature of the former VP.
“Kalonzo is a national leader with no interest in county politics. It is not even worth associating such problems with Mr Musyoka or even the party,” said Mr Mathuki.
But even as the Wiper leader and his lieutenants denied involvement in frustrating Governor Ngilu, his continued involvement in grassroots politics in the region paints a different picture.
Last October, Mr Musyoka unsuccessfully led campaigns for his party’s candidate in the Mutonguni Ward by-election. The candidate lost to the Maendeleo Chap Chap flag bearer.
This loss was quickly followed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), where Governor Ngilu was selected as the leader of the initiative in the Ukambani region, teaming up with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana to stage a successful BBI campaign in the region.
The two debacles, according to political pundits, could be a sign of the loss of some grip by the former Mwingi Central MP in the region.
But Mr Mathuki laughed off the claims, saying Mr Musyoka’s influence in the region is growing stronger as he is a national leader in his own right.
“You can’t tell Kalonzo to start mobilising people to come to a meeting. That is the work of a governor,” he said.