A consortium of Civil Societies Organizations (CSO) in Taita Taveta County has backed Governor Granton Samboja’s rejection of the budget proposals in which Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) had allocated over Sh800 million in their wards.
Speaking in Voi town on Monday, the chairperson of Taita-Taveta Human Rights Watch Mr. Hajji Mwakio said the county assembly members had violated the constitution by allocating themselves money for overpriced projects.
Mwakio also claimed that there was no public participation for approving of the projects in the wards. “The budget did not have public participation in setting the proposals. Some projects are highly quoted with a toilet being priced at Sh700, 000 which is not realistic,” he said.
The chairperson added that some projects are also being funded twice as they are already sponsored by other organizations.
He cited a water project in Mbololo ward which is sponsored by the World Bank but has been included in the budget estimates and priced at Sh10 million.
“Meanwhile, the MCAs’ projects do not specify on what exactly was being funded,” noted Mwakio, adding that a project budgeted for Sh7million for women, youth and persons living with disability did not indicate what the money will do.
He also termed fencing of a dispensary at Sh3 million while the facility had no drugs as a gross misuse of funds.
Another civil society activist Florah Ali said the process of making the budget did not follow the law. She accused MCAs of neglecting their responsibilities of oversight on usage of wards funds.
“The public and projects committee are supposed to be included in the decisions for budgeting in order to ensure prudent use of funds given to each ward,” she said.
In the last few weeks, the county has been faced with a budget crisis that threatens to paralyze all operations of the county government.
Samboja declined to assent to amendments made to his Sh5.4 billion budget by the County Assembly saying the MCAs were wrecking his development agenda.
Since then, focus has shifted to MCAs and their proposed projects at the ward level. In Mwatate ward, the MCA has allocated over Sh17 million for construction and completion of public halls, while bursary kitty was allocated Sh5 million.
In Marungu ward, there is an allocation of Sh7 million for surveying and titling of LMD farm which is under the national government. Such allocations have raised questions over the priority projects at ward level.
There is also the controversy over a uniform allocation of Sh10 million for each ward dubbed, Ward Flagship Project.
Mr. Gideon Ndambuki, also a member of civil society, alleged that the MCAs were using the ward development projects to campaign.
On her part, Beatrice Mjomba, a member of Sauti Ya Wanawake, said most funds are being misused by allocating it to frivolous projects.
“We will support the Governor and urge him not to sign the budget until all people are allowed to participate,” she added.
By Patrick Mwashashu