Kiraitu-Linturi rivalry plays out as senators grill governor

The Meru governor accused the senator of maligning him over 2022 election

In Summary

• The erstwhile political buddies were embroiled in bitter exchanges over the running of the county affairs

• Linturi accused of inciting MCAs

Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.
Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.
Image: FILE

The political rivalry between Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Senator Mithika Linturi yesterday played out during the grilling of the county boss over 2017-18 audit queries.

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

Murungi was appearing before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments committee to respond to the 2017-18 queries raised by Auditor General Edward Ouko.

He fired the first salvo, accusing the senator of using audit reports to discredit his administration and score political goals.

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

“Audit reports are official documents that need to be handled in a sober and mature manner. Unfortunately, the senator has been talking about these reports out there on TVs, radios, newspapers, funerals and bars tarnishing my name,” Murungi, himself a former senator, told the committee chaired by Moses Kajwang' (Homa Bay).

He said Linturi almost incited the MCAs against him when he tabled the report in the county assembly during his address to the House last week.

“He has been using this report as a tool for political propaganda because he wants to be Meru governor in 2022,” the visibly agitated county chief told the panel.

Linturi did not take it lying down. He told off the governor that his administration has failed to live up to its promises.

“I have no intention or interest in the seat. We campaigned together and I've been supporting your administration until this audit report came out,” he said, adding that he has the right to inform residents of the affairs of the county government.

“Audit reports and Controller of Budget reports are the primary tools of oversight. I won't compromise by oversight responsibility for anything.”

Kajwang' had to intervene to contain simmering tension.

Murungi was hard-pressed to explain why his administration channelled Sh8.15 million to the Council of Governors, despite the law stating it should be financed by the national government.

"Section 37 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act, 2012, states that all operational expenses of the Council of Governors should be met by the national government. Why did your government send this money to the council?" Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi asked.

The governor responded that the council has never been funded by the national government and has been relying on contributions by the counties to fund its operations.

Murungi was also made to explain why his administration denied the residents the much-needed services and development by failing to use Sh1.97 billion allocated for development during the year under review.

He shifted the blame to the National Treasury, blaming the CS Henry Rotich-led ministry for delaying disbursements.

“We received the money in question after June 30, 2018, that is after the end of the financial year. That's why it was carried forward and the auditor captured it as unutilised,” he said.

Murungi was also at pains to explain why his finance officers did not capture transactions in the IFMIS, leading to a Sh7.6 billion variance between figures in the IFMIS and those in the financial statements.

According to the report, figures captured in the financial statement was Sh9.05 billion against Sh16.70 billion indicated in the IFMIS. He said he had no idea what the figures were, adding that the county received only Sh7 billion that year.

(Edited by F'Orieny)