Kakamega politics played out on Thursday during the questioning of Governor Wycliffe Oparanya on audit queries as the county boss and his senator Cleophas Malala engaged in a shouting matches.
The duo turned the session that was meant to discuss the audit queries raised by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu on the financial operations of the county Executive, into a theatre of bitter exchanges.
Oparanya had appeared before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee to respondent to the anomalies flagged by Gathungu in 2018-19 financial year.
The melee started after Malala alleged that Oparanya’s administration has been dishing out county contracts through direct procurement to Devki, the financier who was supposed to take over Mumias Sugar Company.
The allegations arose from an audit query where Gathungu flagged procurement of fertiliser at a contract sum of Sh305.01 million by the county government.
According to the report, the county procured 135,000 25kg bags of planting fertiliser and 90,000 bags of top dressing fertiliser for maize.
However, the county did not award the tender to bidder one and bidder two that had been recommended.
Instead, it awarded the tender to Mavuno brand fertiliser, who was bidder three without notifying the other bidders.
“Had the supplies been procured from bidders No 1 and No 2 at their respective process, the cost would have amounted to Sh238.50 million instead of Sh305.01 million. Management would as a result, have saved Sh66.51 million.
In his response, the governor said the law does not require the procurement entity to notify other bidders.
He added that Mavuno was picked as it had the type of fertiliser the user department needed after consulting the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute on the appropriate type.
But Malala immediately shot to the floor, saying while the governor’s explanation was scientifically correct, he had issues with the mode of procurement.
“Your response is scientifically correct, but I have an issue with the contract. Why was the first and second bidders not awarded?” he posed.
He demanded that the governor and county chief officer in charge of agriculture disclose the proprietor of Mavuno.
The governor said he did not know the proprietor of the firm a response that triggered the senator to table a document, alleging that the firm is owned by Devki.
“The owner of Mavuno is Devki. Is there any relationship between the governor and Devki. Three year ago you gave Devki a go ahead to lease Mumias,” he claimed.
The governor insisted he had no relationship with Devki.
“I don’t know him. You think you are the only person who can speak,” a visibility agitated governor hit back as the situation escalated.
Temporary chairman Johnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta) had to switch off the senator’s microphone and rule him out of order to restore sanity.
Earlier, Oparanya was at pains to explain why the construction of staff houses at the Kakamega Referral Hospital has stalled since 2016.
The contract awarded at Sh108.5 million has stalled over delayed payment by the county.
But the governor shifted the blame to the contractor, saying the firm has proved incompetent to do the work.
“I have taken action against the contractor. I have appointed a committee to discuss this issue with the contractor,” he said.
However, the meeting was adjourned midway as the governor requested to be allowed to attend to an urgent matter.
Mwaruma said the governor would be invited again to respond to the remaining queries.
-Edited by SKanyara