Religious leaders in Kirinyaga have now given their voice over the governance of the county claiming the residents are getting poorer by the day.
The leaders in a statement to the media said they were concerned over the disillusionment for the farmers and traders in the county due to unfavorable economic environment.
“We are greatly concerned by the current standoff in Kirinyaga health sector that has brought services in our public health facilities to a standstill, thus affecting access to health care by the majority of the poor” said ACK Bishop Kirinyaga, Joseph Kibuchwa.
The leaders were speaking after a two day County Dialogue conference held at ACK diocese headquarters in Kutus.
The forum had been convened by Kirinyaga Dialogue Reference group which consists of the religious bodies in the county.
The meeting brought together over 110 delegates including women and youth leaders as well as representatives of the civil society’s persons with disabilities, professionals, farmer groups and business community.
Other resolves from the conference is that a special Youth social economic empowerment sessional paper be developed to galvanize a national intervention to address the youth unemployment crisis in the county.
Public and state officers should be required by law to only receive health vertices from the public health facilities.
Kibuchwa said there must be a deliberate effort to empower the youths by making sure those who fail to join universities are encouraged and supported to join technical institutions.
He said the other problem bedeviling Kirinyaga County is that many of the elected leaders do not reside in the county.
“We are asking our leaders in the National Assembly to come up with a law that make it mandatory for governors to stay within their county,” he said.
On corruption, Kibuchwa said the procurement Act should be amended to enhance transparency and accountability. ‘‘We are calling on the presidents to institute that all leaders undergo a life style audit,’’ he added.
Kibuchwa said religious leaders in Kirinyaga support that churches should not accept donations or contributions from elected or appointed leaders that are given with fanfare.
“We are of the suggestion that issues related to corruption be entrenched as a unit subject in the school curriculum syllabus” he said.
Rev. Father Charles Waweru, Assistant Executive Secretary Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops called for a continuous audit of devolution which he said was performing dismally with the people’s expectations.
He said there must be a clear handing over process within the county government with establishment of social audit mechanisms by local residents on all projects implemented by the Kirinyaga County government.
‘‘This should also ensure that all projects initiated are completed within stipulated time frame before funding new
projects,’’ he said.
Father Waweru said the county government must also implement the two thirds gender rule in all committees and departments through merit and qualifications.
On Mwea trust land, the church leaders said the County government should quickly and fairly sub divide the scheme to avoid conflict and bloodshed.
On alcoholism and manufacture of illicit brew, the leaders took note that some of the administrators and the police have become party to the evil business.
“Some of the beneficiaries of the trade seem to be people with senior leadership or with high influence such that the business keeps thriving amidst repeated efforts to deal with it.
“All unlicensed bars must be closed immediately, Bars within the vicinity of learning institutions and residential areas be closed immediately, amend liquor licensing law to curb high alcoholism in the county,’’ he noted.
Waweru said rehabilitation of drug and substance abuse should be undertaken and funded by the county government.
Father Waweru said the conference was able to put in place sub counties dialogue forums and advised the residents to use any available opportunity to bring out the issues affecting their areas.
“Demand action from the ones in leadership positions, this is the only way we can make our defiant leaders address the issues that are affecting our daily lives,” he said
Other key religious leaders in the conference included Bishop David Kariuki of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Yusuf Mohammed of the National Muslims leaders of Kenya, Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Nguri, Seventh Day Adventist representative, Richard Njagi and the Supreme Council of Kenya (SUPKEM), Ismail Wanjohi.
By Irungu Mwangi